June 17, 2010

Wind Power - the reality

From English writer James Delingpole:
The Great Wind Farm Disaster (ctd)
Heard a great story the other day from Matt Ridley, author of the absolutely essential The Rational Optimist.

He bumped into an engineer who was hoping to land one of the lucrative contracts for the massive, insanely expensive offshore wind farm programme which Dave’s new “Greener Than Anyone” administration hopes will reduce Britain’s carbon footprint while simultaneously creating that the philosopher’s-stone-type marvel that some men do call Green Jobs.

“What’s the chance of them being built on time?” Ridley asked.

“Zero,” said the engineer.

“And once you’ve stuck these things in the sea-bed, how long do you think they’ll last?” Ridley asked.

“Oh, virtually no time at all.”

“So if these offshore wind farms are going to be impossible to put up and are going to fall down as soon as you do, why are you vying for this multi-billion pound government contract?” asked Ridley.

“Duh,” said the engineer.

When Mary Tudor died, she predicted, they would find Calais engraved on her heart.

My prediction when my old mucker Dave Cameron pops off, they will find “wind farms” engraved on his. Of all the damage his lousy administration will do to this country of ours, none will be so mighty, permanent or thoroughly inexcusable as his wind farm programme.

Here’s further cause for gloom from the excellent German blogger P Gosselin, whose reports on what’s happening in Germany gives us an idea of the disasters coming our way soon.
Originally estimated to cost €189 million, the Alpha Ventus park has been plagued by cost overruns and delays. In late summer and autumn of 2008, bad weather made installation of the first 6 turbines impossible. Then the equipment to install the monster turbines was not available. Next there were major problems with the transformer facilities.

A few weeks ago the temperature of the bearings in the turbine made by Areva Multibrid was too high and thus they had to be taken out of operation. Now the turbines have to be removed from their 500+ ft. high towers and the bearings have to be replaced. Repair works will take weeks and extend into late summer. It’s still unclear if the other four of the Multibrid turbines have a problem. The remaining 6 turbines are made by Repower and are reported to be running smoothly. There are no reports on how high the costs for the troublesome dismantling and repair works will run.

And if that weren’t bad enough, the construction works on the massive Bard Offshore 1 commercial windparks have been delayed as a 300-foot foundation column crashed onto the construction ship Wind Lift 1 three weeks ago. Now other turbines have to be thoroughly inspected. The Bard project foresees the installation of 320 five-megawatt class turbines over the coming years. The cost for the first 80 Bard turbines alone is climbing far beyond original estimates. First they were estimated to cost over €500 million. Now it’s estimated costs will exceed a billion euros. German online newspaper projects the costs will even reach €1.2 billion.

The promoters of the offshore projects cannot say they weren’t warned of the risks of installing windparks in the North Sea’s harsh conditions. The Nysted offshore windpark and Horns Rev park in Denmark are examples, and have struggled with big problems. For example in 2007 a transformer malfunction occurred at Nysted just 4 years after being commissioned, causing a months-long shutdown. At the Horns Rev windpark there were problems with the turbines only 2 years after they had gone into operation. World leading turbine manufacturer Vestas had to remove all 80 turbines, haul them onshore and perform extensive repairs. Luckily these turbines were only of the smaller 2 to 2.3-MW class, and so much easier to do repair works. Repairs and maintenance on the 5-MW monsters will be much tougher and expensive.

But as long as windpark companies continue to have the full backing of wasteful governments, costs won’t matter.
Amen, brother.
Quoting the whole thing as it is an important read. The true costs of these things are never revealed. P Gosselin relates this other story on his blog:
Obama’s Green Dream Will Be America’s Next Nightmare
EIKE has a piece today called Super Expensive Energy. It perhaps could serve as a reminder for President Obama, who thinks passing cap & trade and stopping reliance on fossil fuels will somehow plug the hole. My feeling is that Obama is using the oil disaster as a political instrument to drive through a dangerous cap & trade law.

Cap & trade means subsidising industries. Governments can do this as long as they can afford it. But that’s rarely the case. Most often they cannot. Europe is a prime example for Obama to look at.

Take a look at socialist Spain, for example. Driven by a green ideology, and all the promises it brings, Spain went ahead and subsidised wind and solar energy with unbridled abandon, thinking it could create thousands of new green jobs and usher in the next economic wonder.

Well, it has. But not the kind of wonder a sane person welcomes. Today Spain is bankrupt and unemployment is at (twenty) 20%. Spain has since been forced to drastically cut its subsidies, and the solar bubble has popped. Spain is now begging other countries for a bailout.

Even in a country that has abundant sunshine, like Spain, solar energy still cannot compete on the free market without generous subsidies. Consumers prefer reliable and inexpensive energy.
And not to mention that from just a jobs numbers standpoint, each "green energy" job created resulted in the loss of two other jobs somewhere else. From CNS News:
Green Stimulus Money Costs More Jobs Than It Creates, Study Shows
Every “green job” created with government money in Spain over the last eight years came at the cost of 2.2 regular jobs, and only one in 10 of the newly created green jobs became a permanent job, says a new study released this month. The study draws parallels with the green jobs programs of the Obama administration.
The study can be downloaded here (54 page PDF). And of course, our politicians are tone deaf on the subject. From Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:
Kerry: Green-jobs pushes always work, except where they don’t
The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress have argued for at least the last two years that massive government subsidies for “green jobs” programs will eventually make America an economic powerhouse — even if no one can define what a “green job” actually is. The cap-and-trade bill will tax energy consumption and put tens of billions of dollars into the hands of Congress, which they plan to spend on pet projects in alternative energy production in the hope that it will force the kind of scientific breakthroughs that will allow mass production. They insist that this will create an explosion of jobs and profit in the green-energy sector.

However, this has been tried already, in Spain and Germany, and it’s no coincidence that Spain now teeters on the edge of bankruptcy. The Spaniards lost 2.2 jobs for every subsidized “green job” created by government intervention, hiking welfare costs and undermining economic growth. When asked about the Spanish example, the Senate’s cap-and-trade co-author John Kerry called it an “anomaly”.
Drill here, drill now. Latest figures show about 300 years worth of oil reserves in the USA. We have several hundred years worth of Uranium ore and several thousand years worth of Thorium which is a lot better to work with (the bulk of the waste is only "hot" for a few tens of years and much can be re-burnt in a different reactor design). Step up the funding to these guys too: EMC2 Fusion Development Corporation And, BTW, a big hand to Mark Suppes who just joined a small but select list:
Neutron Club
Yesterday I was officially added to the list of independent researchers that have achieved nuclear fusion, based on the result of our last fusion run. This list is maintained by Richard Hull, the first amateur fusioneer. Counting groups as a single entry, I’m the 38th person to make this list.
Posted by DaveH at June 17, 2010 8:27 PM | TrackBack