October 5, 2014

What’s wrong with wind power?

Filed under: Articles + Blogs,Technology Development — smeyer @ 5:32 pm

There are great expectations of wind power.  Untold taxpayer money has been spent through Federal subsidy programs.  The technology has been touted as a major element of the energy supply system in the US and many parts of the world.  Wind power has some serious problems to overcome if it is to be everything it is expected to be.

Sometimes, they fall down

collapse

 

The blades can break off

impaled truck

 

They catch fire

fire3

For an in depth statistical analysis of failure, the Caithness Wind Farm accidents are summarized at; http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf   This is not a world wide summary, but it very detailed and represents an accurate snapshot of a farm in the UK and how they are performing.

 

Boone Pickens

In his interview with CNBC last year Boone Pickens said “I’ve lost my ass in the wind market”

 

owen patterson

And UK Energy Minister Owen Patterson labelled wind power “a complete scam”.  Now he’s looking for a new job.

 

Wind power in it’s current form is not very profitable.  This is the result of a series of factors, mostly due to the fact that they are expensive machines that are only able to run 25-30% of the time due to the basic mechanical design.  What we have now learned, after several years of operation, is that the Operation and Maintenance cost (O&M) is twice to three times the projected amount, which effectively negates any revenue generated. Worse still is the prospect of someday having to remove these giant machines from the landscape.  No one wants to guess the cost of removal, because it’s probably going to be more than the initial cost of the equipment.  Which is huge.

Moving these machines offshore, which an extraordinary feat of engineering, is intended to increase the productivity.  But it still won’t help the return on investment (ROI).  If the offshore equipment costs double the onshore, and production of electricity doubles, the ROI remains the same.   (do the math)

Making horizontal wind turbines (HWT) bigger is an excuse to make them taller because there is more prevailing wind at higher altitude.  But we are already at the limit of what is possible in blade construction technology.  This means we are developing technology with increasing risk, not decreasing risk.  And cost.  Do we really want to go there?

Let’s start fielding some better ideas.  We know they are out there.

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