T. Boone Pickens Abandons U.S. wind power

From Slashdot:

In 2008, billionaire T. Boone Pickens unveiled his ‘Pickens Plan’ on national TV, which calls for America to end its dependence on foreign oil by increasing use of wind power and natural gas. Over the next two years, he spent $80 million on TV commercials and $2 billion on General Electric wind turbines.

Unfortunately market forces were not favorable to Mr. Pickens, and in December 2010 he announced that he is getting out of the wind power business. What does he plan to do with his $2 billion worth of idle wind turbines? He is trying to sell them to Canada, because of Canadian law that mandates consumers to buy more renewable electricity regardless of cost.

On his website he says this about 2011-

We’re not going away. If I’ve learned anything during the many years of my business career it is this: No one has ever accomplished his or her goal by quitting or failing to meet and overcome a challenge. You reach your goal by hitching up your pants and wading back into the fight.

That’s what I’m going to do in 2011. And I know you’ll be with me.

Likely the market forces will have a say.

Here’s a video of his plan in better days-

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147 thoughts on “T. Boone Pickens Abandons U.S. wind power

  1. Wind Power is going away, again, because of the same old problem: It is unsustainable. Who would burn more than 3 barrels of oil to recover 1 barrel? This is the fraud of wind power with an EROEI of 0.29. Good riddance!

    And Merry Christmas to all.

  2. With any luck the election next year will allow Ontarians to expel the believers in magic jobs (we need something to replace autos don’t you know, just don’r tell GM or Chysler workers it’s done) and end the nightmare of excessive subsidies planned by the Ontario government (which does not appear to have a cogent plan).
    My favorite story are those near Wolfe Island near Kingston who are bothered by the flashing air navigation lights (never thought about that I’m sure, even people in up-state NY are bothered). The area is unsightly now and the only people I know who thing they are “attractive” are Torontonians living over 200 km away. But don’e fear, the Ontario government has mandated that turbines can’t be built within 5 km of shore, ensuring no loss of votes in wet Toronto.
    T. Boone has confirmed what I have always thought, these things are only built if someone else pays the freight.

  3. Take one down? Laker board discusses future of school’s turbines

    December 24, 2010

    PIGEON — What is the main purpose of the Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker wind turbines? Is it to educate students and others, or is it to save the district money?

    How much can the district save?

    Without the turbines operating, the district would pay about $50,500 for electricity at the elementary school per year.

    Last year, the district saved $9,563 by running the wind turbines. However, because the district replaced the set of blades on the front turbine last year after the 2008 blade loss, the district ended up spending more money on the repair than what the turbines saved — about $3,000 to $4,000 more.

    http://www.michigansthumb.com/articles/2010/12/24/news/local_news/doc4d11f21351a01151892092.txt

  4. I’ve made a nice walk today in a landscape similar to that on the video, only covered with 40 cm of snow. Beautiful weather, freezing cold.
    Non of the wind mills was producing any power. No wind.

    And the solar panels on the roofs due to the thick pack of snow also out of order.

    It’s 100% in need of back up power

    Wind and solar therefore isn’t alternative energy but obsolete energy.

    The ultimate waste of money.

  5. It is my understanding that his company is retaing water rights awarded to them for putting up the turbines. Now that he’s not going to do that it will be interesting if they “sell” them back at a nice profit.

  6. Merry Christmas to all!

    As a Canadian citizen, resident and taxpayer, I must say – this news is craptastic!!!!

    As a regular reader of WUWT, I must also say yuck. This plan of soaking the taxpayer to build wind power monstrosities is a terrible idea for all the reasons we well know.

    I need to call my Minister of Parliament and the Prime Minister!!

    Best to all this holiday season.

  7. Now if the State of NJ would abandon wind (and solar). My electrical rates went from $0.12 to over $0.18 in large part because of this stupid ‘green’ energy. Utilities are mandated to buy the energy credits and those cost of course are passed off to the consumer.

  8. Surely T. Boone Pickens must have been a sidesman for Bleeding Gums Murphy? Before he met Bart and Lisa of course…….

  9. Another example of a business that cannot survive without government subsidies (or, in t he case of Canada, mandates). No wonder the economy is having a hard time rebounding.

  10. This is a more important landmark than Climategate.

    TBoone isn’t dumb, to put it mildly. He knew from the start that wind power was just another name for natural gas, with the windmills supplying the subsidies and decoration and regulatory approval while the natural gas supplies the electricity. Now that he’s decided to give up the pretty pinwheels and produce only the electricity, others will follow.

  11. In the video, Pickens says 20% of the jobs in town are wind energy jobs. New homes are being built, new schools, etc. So what happens to Sweetwater TX now? Do the jobs follow the windmills to Canada? What about the infrastructure built around the wind bubble?

    For Pickens, a few billion here or there doesn’t hurt much. For the people who bought into his dream, it will.

  12. The Pickens plan was never about wind power. It was about water. Pickens has groundwater rights on the land where his wind turbines stand (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/4275059). Wind power was merely window dressing. And since Texas became the state with the most wind power production, electricity prices there have risen more than 50%. Green energy is NOT cheap.

    We need inexpensive domestic energy. Energy independence should be the next major goal of the US. We can do it, but it will require a commitment to new nuclear technologies. We need to power a new industrial revolution to regrow the middle class. If we don’t revitalize our economy starting with energy, we either 1) fall under the shadow of China and lose our leadership position, or 2) have to fight for limited foreign energy resources and likely wind up on the losing end. We must become competitive again, and not through a low-wage workforce, but through more efficient production by innovation. We will have to change our mindset from open warfare between business management and labor to partnership for the benefit of all. We will see more jobs when businesses become more profitable and need to grow. Government can’t create jobs, but it can impead that process by keeping taxes high and over-regulating. Today, too many businesses are dependent on markets created by government regulations. Regulations also serve to limit competition. The big boys like that. Increasingly, the free market is a fiction.

  13. I must say that I thought his foray into wind was more expeditionary than determined investment. It seems that TBP has found that wind power, aside from niche applications, is not the electrical future the enthusiasts claim it to be.

    It is one thing power a small house or a boat battery charger but when considering smelting aluminum or running a can line you are in several whole different orders of power demand. Reliability and storage are also very big issues and any storage solutions will benefit the other means of generation as well.

    TBP has now had good first hand, and knowing him, detailed experience of the renewables world and his decision to walk away comes as no surprise at all. It will be very interesting to see how much he now invests in coal, gas and nuclear generation because as a corollary to getting out of wind ( and no doubt solar for the same reasons ) he must surely see the future is in steam.

  14. The blades on the mill go round round round, go round round round

    The blades on the mill go round round rou?!? WTF!

    But the blades on the mill don’t go round round round when:

    No wind wind wind

    Too cold cold cold

    Too windy windy windy

    No grease grease grease

    No back up coal coal coal

    When the blades on the mill go round round round

    You get birds on the ground ground ground

    When the blades on the mill don’t go round round round

    It be pretty neat with nuclear heat heat heat, nuclear heat heat heat

  15. As a fellow Texan, if you ever have the chance to shake hands with T. Boone Pickens, be sure to count your fingers afterward.

  16. He couldn’t quite pull off the scam to rob the taxpayer, and with the GOP holding the purse strings, decided to get out before the exposure of what a fraud this energy source really is.

  17. I could have told TBP not to invest in wind, saved him billions and I would have taken just 10% of the savings!

    I hope the UK Energy Minister follows TBP’s decisions on wind. That will save the UK taxpayer billions.

  18. I read some speculation, several years ago, that the water rights were what he was really after althougth I didn’t understand why water rights were (as opposed to access rights) an issue with wind power.

  19. Pickens is a very bright guy, who has made his fortune exploiting the unintended consequences of Government regulations. In this case, the subsidies for putting up windmills have allowed him to acquire a lot of property and water rights, plus sell natural gas to backup the nonexistent “wind power”.

    He is primarily a “vulture capitalist” who buys up firms with illiquid assets and big obligations; he closes the company, fires the workers, sells off the assets, stiffs the creditors, banks the money, and goes to the next opportunity. The Congress has just handed him a windfall in the form of the estate tax, which will allow him to work his magic on family firms whose founder dies: Treasury gets its cut, the Chinese get the machinery and intellectual property, the heirs get (maybe) a new car, and the employees and creditors get bupkis. Given that, he has no need to continue scamming “renewable energy”.

  20. This is why AGW is so hard to pull down. The theory is weak yet it has many industialists involved for the sole purpose of making a financial killing. Even the oil companies have come on board hoping to make billions from a naive and frightened public. Politicians see more power and taxes. Greens see a magic bullet (co2) curing many of their environmental concerns.

    In years to come people need to be tried in court and locked away for a very long time.

  21. Three words: impending Spanish insolvency.

    Thanks in part to “green” subsidies. And they bang on about sustainability.

    Take note, Pickens, or change your name to Slim.

  22. For the life of me, I don’t get the green left’s fascination with wind power. Having regularly driven out west, particularly in North Dakota, the windmills are a particular eyesore in lands where one can see forever, much worse than the oil rigs. I would assume they have very similar environmental effects as well, with roads needing to be cut, hydraulic oils spilling, etc etc. Here in New York State, the greenies rightfully lead the effort to protect our beautiful ridges from development, including natural gas drilling, yet continue to push for wind and solar initiatives.. I wonder if they have considered how bad the ridges would look covered in 150 meter high turbines.

    As for Boone Pickens.. he’s a capitalist true and true. I never believed for a minute he ever was in this for anything but to make money. This is purely a business decision for him. I still believe natural gas is going to grow in use, particularly as it gets colder..

  23. Hoosier is correct in that T. Boone Pickens is still keeping his water rights in Roberts and other counties, even as he abandons wind power. Pickens is a firm believer and practitioner in the art of using S.E. M. – someone else’s money – to accomplish his goals. If he has not found enough outside takers for his wind energy plan, then that’s the end of the plan. He is keeping the water because he plans to sell it down state to San Antonio or elsewhere – provided that the purchaser pay for the pumps, pipeline, rights of way and other assorted costs.

  24. There are numerous wind power projects in the State of Washington but I do not seem to find a report on the actual power produced. On clear days I can even see some of the towers of one project but only a few of 100 plus of them. This morning it is not clear so I’ve no idea what is going on.

    In searching for info, I found a site that claims to be “A Social Action Network fighting for Energy Independence” and operates under the heading of “Push.PickensPlan.com” —

    The site appears to be about 2 years old; had minor action for about a year, and now seems abandoned.

    Questions come to mind:
    When will the site be taken down and will its bones be around for a long time so that future historians will know about such things?

    When subsidies are withdrawn or decreased for wind projects will they be maintained? If not will they be dismantled?

    The states that will be most impacted by the Obama-EPA war on coal power plants will require higher priced power. What will that be? Who will pay?

    Lots more but it is Christmas morning. Using cheap hydro power from a Columbia River dam I’m going to bake a pecan pie and take it to the neighbors. They have the turkey in the oven.

    Merry Christmas!

  25. There’s a sucker born every minute. No doubt T. Boone got what he wanted out of the deal. The suckers are the people that bought into $80 million worth of hype.

    When I first saw T. Boone’s TV spots I knew this was a loser for the American Tax-payer. T. Boone wrapping himself in the flag of American “energy independence” while peddling this snake oil was disgusting in the extreme. I saw this coming from a mile away.

  26. Note to Mr. Pickens. I’m on the energy policy advisory committee for the Ontario Progressive Conservatives. We are going to kill the Green Energy Act once we get into power in Oct next year. We will do what we have to to stop the FIT program because it is causing power rates to skyrocket, doubling in the past 7 years. Businesses are leaving because it is cheeper to do business elsewhere where power costs are less. So keep your idle wind turbines, we don’t want them.

  27. Wind power isn’t the only alternative energy source on the chopping block.

    Taxpayer funded SpectraWatt (a solar cell manufacturer) is shutting down it’s New York plant after less than one year in business. Reason- global COOLING in Europe! Seems there is little demand for solar cells when the skies are gray and cloudy.

    Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend…

    http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20101222/BUSINESS/12220339/Solar-cell-maker-SpectraWatt-plans-shutdown

    Merry Christmas, All!

  28. The wind farm was subsidized icing on dog turd. He was after eminent domain in order to get aquifer water to Dallas. Some handy legislation was passed, or rather buried, in bigger water bills that would allow land condemnation for a water pipeline to run next to windmill powerlines in order to get needed power AND water to far away places in Texas, namely Dallas. The ranchers that were owners of that soon to be condemnable long strip of land weren’t happy.

    While he tried to win their cooperation by dancing a carrot, as in letting them in on the “water company”, he failed to ask first. In Texas, you don’t take unless you are willing to stare down a gun barrel pointed at you. Apparently, he flinched?

  29. I’m happy to see the people managed to block Pickens from using government to loot us for this project, but his threat to get government to loot us for another project next year is scary.

  30. WUWT said: “Unfortunately market forces were not favorable to Mr. Pickens, …”

    But the article cited says this:

    “Two years ago, Pickens placed a $1.5 billion wind turbine order from GE. But the problem: transporting the energy from West Texas to the rest of the state. Pickens planned to build his own transmission, but the approvals fell through,….” http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/12/22/pm-major-investor-pulls-out-of-wind-power/

    So, it was not market forces but government bureaucracy that caused Pickens to back off for now. I would think WUWT readers would be appalled and press the government to give Pickens the green light for his enterprise. (I don’t know if the approval is needed from Texas state government or the federal government – or both.)

  31. I thought this was the only way to save the country if not the world and now T Boone is quitting, so he is was only interested in making a buck, not in saving the planet, what will you tell me next, there is no Santa Claus?
    Merry Christmas Everyone.

  32. I just went out to brush snow off my solar cell. Damn. It was covered in thick bumpy ice under the snow I brushed off. Large or small, wind and solar power is far too sensitive to weather to be of any substantial use in many parts of the country.

    By the way, if cities continue to allow development that sucks their available water dry, distant land owners with water rights may end up trying to do exactly what Pickens tried to do, sell the water that just happens to flow under his land. At least at the last minute, his county placed a restriction on folks like him. He could not draw down the aquifer past 50% of its full state.

    States and counties probably need to put into place restrictions on the sale of aquifer water in order to prevent drainage to the last drop by people not living in that county. And it has nothing to do with global warming or cooling. It has to do with population growth and development beyond a city’s means to supply sustainable water to its ever expanding belly.

    So remember, future taking and sale of water has nothing to do with climate change. It is all about unrestricted population growth in water sucking cities. And you think CO2 control stirs a hornet’s nest.

  33. Amazing.

    One can’t help but wonder how much of this story will be covered in MSM. I recall the media going ga-ga when TBP announced his big wind idea. I also remember some time later it being reported that TBP wouldn’t permit any of the windmills on his personal ranch in Texas – too ugly.

    Here’s a question: if these windmills are ugly now, what will they look like in 20+ years if indeed, natural gas, nuke, oil and coal will rule the future of energy? Will we look back and ask, “what on earth were we thinking?”

  34. Pickens: proving yet again that America loves an asshole as long as he’s rich.

    Count you fingers, indeed.

  35. So the back story has to be about the disruption of his plans for a water pipeline filled with distant aquifer water. The legislation allowing eminent domain for a water pipeline was connected to eminent domain for his wind turbine powerlines. If he isn’t going to build the wind farm, he won’t be able to pipe water on the condemned land that would have been under the power line to Dallas. So who stopped his aquifer pipeline deal, as that was the whole point of the wind farm? Somebody removed the icing on the dog turd.

  36. To add on to what Hoser said, he apparently was having trouble running water lines from Sweetwater to the Dallas area as he would have to buy the land to place the piping on it’s own. But if he could place energy transmission lines from Sweetwater to Dallas, he could bury the water lines at the same time. It wasn’t about the wind power as much as it was the subsidized transmission lines and greater ability to use eminent domain to place his other pipelines in at the same time.

  37. Sam Hall:
    December 25, 2010 at 8:07 am

    I know, Sam. Count your fingers AND feel for your wallet, too. I remember when he was trying to snooker our gullible Mayor (now former Mayor) of Dallas, Laura Miller, into buying West Texas ground water. He said he’d even build the pipeline! Of course, what he didn’t say was that we had to pay for it. Making the overall cost of the water almost three times as expensive as it would be for us to build a new reservoir.

  38. Meanwhile in denmark:

    E.ON AG, Germany’s largest utility, said its 207-megawatt Roedsand-2 offshore wind park in Denmark was operating at 130 megawatts capacity today because of ice on the turbines.
    “Stopped turbines must be restarted at site which cannot be done at present weather conditions,” the Dusseldorf-based company said in a market message via the Nord Pool Spot AS exchange in Oslo at 12:49 p.m. local time.

  39. They were only ever farming taxes, not the wind.

    And if we relied on this unreliable power, it would bring every fascet of our society to its knees. During these cold snaps, the wind was never blowing, and we would be in the cold and darkness.

    .

  40. Mike says:

    “I would think WUWT readers would be appalled and press the government to give Pickens the green light for his enterprise.”

    T-Bone is a big boy. He may want people to assist him. But what would anyone else get out of it?

    Now, if you had said, “Let’s get the government out of the way of oil and natural gas development,” I would be on board. But Pickens is just an opportunist who has stepped on the toes of lots of small ranchers. Sorry for you things aren’t going his way. Not sorry for T-Bone though.

  41. Here in British Columbia Canada which is the California of Canada our power rates are increasing because of so called green power. The government has forced the main electrical utility, which is public, to buy very exensive power from Independent Power Producers. These IPP’s have run of the river plants and windfarms but I cannot find any information on on power produced campared to installed capacity. I could be mistaken but the information seems to be hidden and this is a public utility.

    Another interesting fact are the number of ex government and ex utility managers that are in the IPP business. This is the biggest taxpayer scam going. I say taxpayer scam because of the jacked up utility bills paying for all of this.

    In a nutshell, Ipp’s which are supposed to be private, are heavily taxpayer subsidized. Ex government and utility managers jump on board and make buckets of money. Taxpayers stiffed with higher utility costs. Taxpayer again stiffed with the building of site C public dam to cover the Ipp’s run of the river plants and windfarms when they are not generating.

  42. >There are numerous wind power projects in the State of Washington but I do not seem to find a report on the actual power produced.

    Here is what BPA, in Oregon I believe, is outputting. NOTHING for just about the entire week.

    http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/Wind/baltwg.aspx

    How about Ontario today. Oh the sustainable energy is contributing about 1% to the grid, while the poor saps are paying through the nose!

    http://www.sygration.com/gendata/today.html

    Here is UK. Look at the difference between initial forecast and the recent forecast.

    http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

  43. Between McGuinty and the BC green nuts, Canada will find some politicians that will waste taxpayers money by helping a green friend billionaire south of the border… Look for a PR campaign in the Globe and Mail to seal the deal…

  44. Consider this:

    My last electricity bill was $0.096 per KWh, which seems to be a reasonable rate. If I used 2010 KWh of electricity in a month or 67 KWh per day on average for all 365 days, my bill would be about $193. Suppose a solar panel saved me just 5 KWh per day on average for all 365 days. Now I purchased just 1860 KWh. Now my bill is $179. I saved $14. According to the website below, a good rule of thumb in figuring out solar panel costs is about $7000 to $9000 per KWh. Lets assume $8000 per KWh. So, my 5 KWh system will cost me $40,000. If I save $14 per month, it will take me 2,858 months to pay off the solar panel, or 238 years and 2 months.

    Lets assume I’m in a state where electricity is expensive. Lets say I’m charge $0.18 per KWh. Now my monthly bill is about $362. Saving 5 KWh would lower that bill to $335 per month. I’m saving $27 per month. It will now take me 1482 months to break even, or 123 years and 6 months.

    Remind me again why going green is good for our wallets? Suppose the costs to install is cut in half. Instead of $40,000, it is now $20,000 per 5 KWh. Even then, it will take several decades to break even on the cost of the panel, even with inflation. Going “green” only makes sense if you have subsidies.

    http://solarpowerauthority.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-install-solar-on-an-average-us-house/

  45. Wade,

    You’re also leaving out the lost opportunity cost of your $40K. Interest, etc.

    Then there’s maintenance, which is normally covered by the utility. With solar panels, if/when something malfunctions, that’s another cost to you.

    I had a house with solar heated water panels – a pump ran the water through the panels for heat. Simple. But to get good efficiency I had to get on the roof every month or two and wash down the panels. They get dirty just from the dust stirred up from cars going down the street. That chore gets old fast.

    Eventually solar will be worth utilizing. But right now the technology is just getting up to speed. If you’re considering solar, at least wait until the costs come down about 75%, and the panel efficiency doubles from here. A good rule of thumb is that the system should pay for itself in 3 years.

  46. I’m 57 years old.

    I’ve been fighting this (alas losing) battle for 30+ years against the hippies and
    people living in “fantasy land”.

    Nuclear power is the ONLY way to go!

    I grieve that I cannot readily learn Chinese and offer my services in the latter days of my life to help the Chinese build a “nuclear powered nation”.

    For Mr. Pickens, I recommend the “third ghost” of Christmas future.

    Weather HOT or COLD I hope that’s where the wind blows him.

  47. “You reach your goal by hitching up your pants and wading back into the fight.”
    = when you are in a hole you keep digging.

    UK’s wind power is 1.0% of consumption at time of going to blog and with Huhne shutting down old nuclear (20%) and loading coal and gas (63%) with green taxes we can all look forward to freezing in our homes in a few years. The French currently send us a 5% nuclear input through the link but I fear we are going to be relying on them for survival in the coming years.
    This is lunacy and its time Huhne and the government were decommissioned so this Climate Act can be overturned and the wind racket investigated.

  48. It looks like T Boone was either not ready or able to sufficiently kiss Obama’s behind to get the billions in stolen taxpayer money he think he deserved.

    Thank heaven for small favors.

    And pity the poor Canadian ratepayers.

  49. @Phillip Bratby says:

    **************************

    December 25, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Meanwhile in denmark:

    E.ON AG, Germany’s largest utility, said its 207-megawatt Roedsand-2 offshore wind park in Denmark was operating at 130 megawatts capacity today because of ice on the turbines.
    “Stopped turbines must be restarted at site which cannot be done at present weather conditions,” the Dusseldorf-based company said in a market message via the Nord Pool Spot AS exchange in Oslo at 12:49 p.m. local time.

    *****************************
    There HAS to be something wrong with those numbers!

    There is no way in this world that they would be getting 66% of plated capacity EVER, let alone if half the turbines were iced up.

    Have the reporters missed out a decimal place?

    And in the UK the total generated electricity over the last 24 hours was 990,653 megawatt hrs, of which windmills contributed 10,261 Mw hrs or about 1.0%, of total generated power by all means.
    This is from a plated installed capacity of 5,194 MW. So the % efficiency over the last 24 hours wind alone was 8.23% (nowhere near 50% is it?)
    (There is a potential production of 124,656 MW hrs over the same 24 hour period, at 100% efficiency, if you believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden)

    May have got the numbers wrong, too much brandy on the Christmas pudding

    all the best

    P

  50. Wade,

    “So, my 5 KWh system will cost me $40,000. If I save $14 per month, it will take me 2,858 months to pay off the solar panel, or 238 years and 2 months.”

    You need to multiply your KWh times your localities solar insolation factor(how many hours a day of full sun equivalent).
    The best places have a factor of 6 so their payoff would be 40 years.
    Of course solar panels don’t last 40 years.

    The biggest problem with ‘intermittant’ energy is that the fixed costs of the facility providing backup generation don’t change. So if for example we install windmills that work 25% of the time.

    The local coal plant still has to have staff on duty 24/7, they still need to make their mortgage payment etc so the price of electricity per KWh has to go up at the coal plant.

  51. Gone with the wind?

    “Wind speeds have slowed over three decades across the Northern Hemisphere.

    Increasing amounts of vegetation could be causing up to 60% of a slowing in wind speed across the Northern Hemisphere, according to researchers analysing three decades of wind-speed data in Nature Geoscience1 today.

    The decline is a potential concern for wind-turbine efficiency. But researchers cannot tell whether the effect, an average 10% slowdown, will make much difference to wind turbines — the slowing winds measured are at 10 metres above the ground, whereas turbines operate at 50–100 metres up, where there is little global data.”

    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101017/full/news.2010.543.html

  52. I’ve been fortunate to live in the Northwest (Central WA) where there is arguably more majestic beauty than any place on Earth. Recently I’ve been commuting the gorge once a week. What was once a magnificent panorama of basalt cliffs, lava strewn hillsides and picturesque vineyards has become a gaudy industrialized eyesore. flashing red lights by the thousands mar the starlit evening skies and in daylight, the mostly motionless, stark, obscenities stand waiting for the updrafts on the hillside that also brings the raptors to soar, unaware of the hazard the turning clubs represent.
    Am I a little hypocritical to favor the massive dams while condemning the wind farms. Perhaps, but no more than the environmentalist who sees no destruction in these wasteful, destructive, ugly monsters. While the dams are problematic, those problems pale in comparison to the benefits they provide. Flood and erosion control, creation of navigable waterways, and the cheapest source of sustainable energy. My electric bill will go up 30% next year because of the need to purchase back-up power that is not needed from time to time on the rare occasion that the windmills turn.
    Knowing that decommissioning them will be as costly as their construction, we can be certain that they will remain an eyesore forever, regardless of their success.
    I am currently working with the developers of a promising new modular nuclear power plant that has minimal visual impact (all but the control facility and turbine generator are underground), it’s passive safety systems will be more reliable than the currently operating nuclear facilities, it’s components will be largely available in the US (current designs will require as much as 70% of their components to be purchased overseas), and it can be built progressively 45MWe at a time as demand grows. It can be constructed on site at existing coal fired plants utilizing the existing distribution network when those facilities are no longer cost effective (or legal). Yes, federal assistance was involved in the development of this design, but the difference here is that this technology is being developed and promoted through private enterprise that promises to re-generate domestic industries lost for decades when the nation turned its back on nuclear power. I have been visiting these steel mills, fabrication facilities, engineering firms and see the investment and growth being generated by the new nuclear age. Here the website for the NuScale modular nuclear power plant. Take a look at the future. http://www.nuscalepower.com/

  53. nc says:
    December 25, 2010 at 9:50 am
    Here in British Columbia Canada which is the California of Canada our power rates are increasing because of so called green power. The government has forced the main electrical utility, which is public, to buy very exensive power from Independent Power Producers. These IPP’s have run of the river plants and windfarms but I cannot find any information on on power produced campared to installed capacity. I could be mistaken but the information seems to be hidden and this is a public utility.

    Another interesting fact are the number of ex government and ex utility managers that are in the IPP business. This is the biggest taxpayer scam going. I say taxpayer scam because of the jacked up utility bills paying for all of this.

    In a nutshell, Ipp’s which are supposed to be private, are heavily taxpayer subsidized. Ex government and utility managers jump on board and make buckets of money. Taxpayers stiffed with higher utility costs. Taxpayer again stiffed with the building of site C public dam to cover the Ipp’s run of the river plants and windfarms when they are not generating.
    ==================

    In fact, we’re not buying much power from wind-farms in British Columbia, since there is only one, Bear Mountain, and its output is 102 MW, unless you count the Eye of the Wind at 1.5 MW. They’re not so lefty in Alberta but they’re six times windier at 656 MW.
    Residential rates in BC average around 8 cents. That’s more than we’d like but less than most others have to pay.
    River-run makes sense to me, but I’m not fond of the subsidies.

  54. I think the German numbers are giving available capacity. If that’s the case, they’re saying that only 66% of the off-shore turbines can turn right now. Doesn’t indicate that they are, or at what percent of capacity.

  55. What will the people of Kansas do, since Seimens built an entire facility for windmills in Hutchinson ? Clemson has used $100 million in federal funding on a center to study wind energy in Charleston, SC. Wait until the first tornado or hurricane hits these areas and tears their equipment to pieces. I guess it is all about having the contract to replace all this equipment that GE and Seimens really wants, of course coming from federal monies.

  56. DirkH says:
    “they also import net 6GW equivalent of gas. ”

    Oh, sorry, make that 9GW – i overlooked one “entry” pipeline, makes about 12 GW coming in and 3 GW leaving to Sweden ATM.

  57. @Rhoda R

    ‘I read some speculation, several years ago, that the water rights were what he was really after althougth I didn’t understand why water rights were (as opposed to access rights) an issue with wind power.’

    I’m sorry if you were being rhetorical, but the water, or the water rights if you will, are as financially lucrative, or more so in some places even apparently, than the actual gas. The gas being shale gas, and like shale oil, it pretty much need extra work to extract and with shale gas that extra is water, which happens to be scarce in the free in most of those places that houses the shale gas deposits.

    Ironically this creates a dilemma for on the one hand you have better ‘an foreign oil energy (and to some better ‘an nuclear) and national coal, but you gain the fresh water problem, which might not be seen as a problem in currently remote parts, but those remote parts water deposits are usually depositing the water to other places down stream, so instead the urbanias will risk becoming even drier with even less ground water and less water in the rivers and lakes. The first that will notice a difference is of course all the farmer and other industry that’s become dependent on the water supply, then in quick succession comes inner city urbania before suburbia.

    So essentially it’s a drainage problem. :p

  58. Speaking of wind energy, Grouse Mtn. Resorts in Vancouver BC built a wind generator up on their ski hill. The project came with all the usual hoopula about how many houses it could power, being green and all that. I cannot find any information about its output compared to nameplate so being a private company I guess they do not have to divulge that information. Anyhow go to this site and you can see how they are paying for it, hint take the tour. Maybe Pickens should have had tours.

    http://www.grousemountain.com/Winter/The-Eye-of-the-Wind/Tour-Information-Attraction.asp

  59. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all.
    Wind Farms – Solar Farms = Long winded but important info.
    From my home in Vancouver, Canada. I look at a huge useless Wind turbine on the top of Grouse Mountain Ski resort, it is visible from 15 miles away and hardly ever turns, An expensive nod to green zealots and the madness of global whatever it is today, but it at least has an observation platform on top of the tower so it does have some use!
    Not all Wind farms are a disaster and some do produce valid power, but at what cost? They cannot compete without massive public subsidization and guaranteed rate KwH tariffs that in many case are 3 to 4 times or more greater than regular electricity rates. The Maintenance and breakdown frequency is another cost that would not be acceptable in the real world but in the heavily subsidized world of renewable energy projects this is not a problem.
    Then there is the huge expense of installing 1000s of miles of transmission lines, that often cost as much as or more than the wind or solar farm it self, Ontario Hydro in Canada or Spain’s renewable power follies are just a few sad examples. They and many other countries are now learning the hard economic facts between green desires and fiscal reality, they have and will find that out the hard way as the cost of power goes through the roof, the cost to the economy in jobs as businesses move out, you have to produce a product or service at a competitive rate or you wont survive. Example: jobs going to China, India and anywhere it can be done cheaper, energy cost are a very important component and can make or break a business or family budget! Never mind the fact that people worldwide need to heat their homes and carry on working to keep the economy running, this effort is becoming harder thanks to energy cost, we have and will become a lot poorer because of these bad political green at any cost decisions.

    Here is the folly of wind power and solar, Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape left to rot and blight on the landscape

    Abandoned Wind Farms & Solar Farms

    There are lots of abandoned energy projects both hydroelectric dams large and small. – BUT the following Wind farms and Solar power projects are inexcusable blights on the environment and were sold and promoted with such grand promises, at tremendous expense, never mind the energy and CO2 produced to manufacture them – Does this sound familiar, just change the dates from then to now = it’s the same scam and you pay for it over and over again!

    Here are just a few shocking examples

    See: Tehachapi Wind Farms – Southern California, USA. There are dozens of wind farms scattered around the Western rim of the Mojave Desert near Tehachapi pass. There are over 5,000 wind turbines in the area thanks to the wind rush of the 1970s and 1980s.
    Many companies have come and gone, been bought, or gone belly-up. Some of the hundreds of turbines not spinning have been derelict now for decades. There is no law in Kern County that requires removal of broken or abandoned wind turbines, and as a result, the Tehachapi Pass area is an strange mix of healthy, active wind farms and a wind turbine graveyard/junkyard.

    See: Kamaoa Wind Farm – South Point, Hawaii, USA. Built in 1986, the Kamaoa wind farm at South Point on the southern tip of the island of Hawaii stopped producing energy for the Big Island’s grid in the last ten years. The 37 battered and beaten Mitsubishi 250 kw turbines essentially went dormant and were recently replaced by fourteen newly 1.5 mw at the Pakini Nui wind farm heavily subsidized of coarse!

    Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles — but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy’s California “big three” locations — Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio — considered among the world’s best wind sites.

    See: Tehachapi Gorge and the Air-tricity deserted Wind Source site. With 100s of abandoned defunct derelict turbines, a rusting disgusting mess.

    See: Altamont Pass – Central California, USA. Home to one of the oldest wind farms in the U.S. Altamont Pass is still the largest concentration of wind turbines in the world. Unfortunately, wind turbines at Altamont Pass killed more birds of prey than any other wind farm in North America. The site is located on a major bird migratory route and there are large concentrations of raptors in this area including the largest population of breeding golden eagles in the world.

    See: Solar One/Solar Two – Daggett, California, USA the destruction of the Desert and now a huge, abandoned disgusting mess that will never be cleaned up!

    See: Carrizo Plain Solar Power Plant – Southern, California, USA. More destruction of the Desert and another huge abandoned disgusting solar panel junk pile!

    See: http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/wind_energys_ghosts_1.html

  60. Wind Farms – Solar Farms
    From my home in Vancouver, Canada. I look at a huge useless Wind turbine on the top of Grouse Mountain Ski resort it hardly ever turns, An expensive nod to green zealots and the madness of global whatever it is today, but it at least has an observation platform on top of the tower so it does have some use!
    Not all Wind farms are a disaster and some do produce valid power, but at what cost? They cannot compete without massive public Subsidization and guaranteed rate KwH tariffs that in many case are 3 times or more greater than regular electricity rates. The Maintenance and breakdown frequency is another cost that would not be acceptable in the real world but is in the heavily subsidized world of renewable energy projects.
    Then there is the huge expense of installing 1000s of miles of transmission lines, that often cost as much as or more than the wind or solar farm it self, Ontario Hydro in Canada or Spain s renewable power follies are just a few sad examples. They and many other countries are now learning the hard economic facts between green desires and fiscal reality, they have and will find that out the hard way as the cost of power goes through the roof, the cost to the economy in jobs as businesses move out you have to produce a product or service at a competitive rate or you wont survive. Example: jobs going to China, India and anywhere it can be done cheaper, energy cost is a very important price component! Never mind the fact that people worldwide need to heat their homes and carry on working to keep the economy running, this effort is becoming harder thanks to energy cost, we have and will become a lot poorer because of these bad political green at any cost decisions.
    Here is the folly of wind power and solar, Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape left to rot and blight on the landscape

    Abandoned Wind Farms & Solar Farms

    There are lots of abandoned energy projects both hydroelectric dams large and small. – BUT the following Wind farms and Solar power projects are inexcusable blights on the environment and were sold and promoted with such grand promises, at tremendous expense, never mind the energy and CO2 produced to manufacture them – Does this sound familiar, just change the dates from then to now = it’s the same scam and you pay for it over and over again!

    Here are just a few shocking examples

    See: Tehachapi Wind Farms – Southern California, USA. There are dozens of wind farms scattered around the Western rim of the Mojave Desert near Tehachapi pass. There are over 5,000 wind turbines in the area thanks to the wind rush of the 1970s and 1980s.
    Many companies have come and gone, been bought, or gone belly-up. Some of the hundreds of turbines not spinning have been derelict now for decades. There is no law in Kern County that requires removal of broken or abandoned wind turbines, and as a result, the Tehachapi Pass area is an strange mix of healthy, active wind farms and a wind turbine graveyard/junkyard.

    See: Kamaoa Wind Farm – South Point, Hawaii, USA. Built in 1986, the Kamaoa wind farm at South Point on the southern tip of the island of Hawaii stopped producing energy for the Big Island’s grid in the last ten years. The 37 battered and beaten Mitsubishi 250 kw turbines essentially went dormant and were recently replaced by fourteen newly 1.5 mw at the Pakini Nui wind farm heavily subsidized of coarse!

    Five other abandoned wind sites dot the Hawaiian Isles — but it is in California where the impact of past mandates and subsidies is felt most strongly. Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy’s California “big three” locations — Altamont Pass, Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio — considered among the world’s best wind sites.

    See: Tehachapi Gorge and the Air-tricity deserted Wind Source site. With 100s of abandoned defunct derelict turbines, a rusting disgusting mess.

    See: Altamont Pass – Central California, USA. Home to one of the oldest wind farms in the U.S. Altamont Pass is still the largest concentration of wind turbines in the world. Unfortunately, wind turbines at Altamont Pass killed more birds of prey than any other wind farm in North America. The site is located on a major bird migratory route and there are large concentrations of raptors in this area including the largest population of breeding golden eagles in the world.

    See: Solar One/Solar Two – Daggett, California, USA the destruction of the Desert and now a huge, abandoned disgusting mess that will never be cleaned up!

    See: Carrizo Plain Solar Power Plant – Southern, California, USA. More destruction of the Desert and another huge abandoned disgusting solar panel junk pile!

    See: http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/wind_energys_ghosts_1.html

  61. The official sources seem unanimous that those are the right numbers; I’ve emailed John Droz, Jr., windpower debunker extraordinaire, for his comments. Will update when he replies!

  62. Baa Humbug says: “What happens to those massive concrete slabs embedded in the ground when the turbines are taken away?”

    Unless the owners’ attorneys made an unbelievable screw-up, the land contract would require all foundations and equipment to be removed when the project is canceled. It is possible that the water rights were handled in a separate contract.

  63. Mike says:
    December 25, 2010 at 9:12 am

    So, it was not market forces but government bureaucracy ["the approvals fell through"] that caused Pickens to back off for now. I would think WUWT readers would be appalled and press the government to give Pickens the green light for his enterprise.

    So, Mike, you think gov’t approval or regulatory processes wouldn’t or shouldn’t have anything to do with “market forces”, such as the multiple market negatives involving and manifested by the abject failure of wind power in Europe, which also should have been easily predicted from a few wind power basics, but weren’t in the European approval process?

    Imo, what is “appalling” is instead the progressive, green thought process, which automatically pursues goals unquestioningly and neurotically as mere fetishes – such as “wind power” and “national health insurance”, “equality” and “justice”,etc., which are fed to the useful throngs by their charismatic leaders as simple, rather undefined memes, but allegedly good in themselves as is – yet nearly totally without regard to what the fetishes actually mean/do in practice here in the real world, which the gov’t permit or regulation process should take account of since it is not supposed to pursue these destructive fetishes – note, in stark contrast to what the EPA is still doing as we speak, that is, without any consideration of the fact that its alleged cure to its alleged Global Warming disease is obviously much worse than its alleged disease.

  64. George says:
    December 25, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I call windmills ‘copper on a stick’. They are a huge waste of resources placed up on the end of a stick. You buy resources (copper, rare earth metals etc) for, say, 3MW of electricity and at best you only ever get 1MW. Two-thirds to three-quarters of the reources up on that stick are just wasted.

    And the greens call this ‘sustainable’. Yeah, right.

  65. I’m confused about the first entry posted here. It claims wind turbines have an Energy Returned on Energy Invested of 0.29. I agree that EROEI is a very good metric for determining the worth of any energy generation installation. If it’s less than 1, then such an installation would be an energy sink, not a source. This comment, if true, would be very confusing in a world where private businesses are ramping up production of wind generators.

    But a simple Google search finds many detailed studies indicating a very high EROEI of at least 20:

    http://www.eoearth.org/article/Energy_return_on_investment_(EROI)_for_wind_energy

    These measurements, based on 60 existing installations, indicate that wind power has perhaps the highest EROEI of all types of energy generation installations. There are plenty of problems with wind generation, but complaining about energy return is way off base.

  66. Last week when it was very cold, coal generation provided 47% of UK power and wind provided 0.1% – it may be providing 1.0% currently but that represents a max of 420MW against a total capacity of 2430 MW. Coal is providing 40.6% or 16078 MW.

    The daily figures can be found on:
    http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm .
    and the stats are fascinating.

  67. T Boone was all about the subsidies that would have guaranteed him a 50% or better profit margin. Since the election the new congress will be in a less giving mood (lest they be hanged) So T Boone exits this particular stage for now.

  68. Picking on Pickens. He bought many millions of dollars of insurance to use proceeds to fund OSU sports. I guess he found out the insurance company ripped him off. Soo sorry.
    To the point, I would build windmills with other people money.
    Not my own.

  69. 1DandyTroll says:
    December 25, 2010 at 11:56 am
    I’m sorry if you were being rhetorical, but the water, or the water rights if you will, are as financially lucrative, or more so in some places even apparently, than the actual gas.
    ============================================================
    The water rights are going to make him more money than those windmills ever would. He knew that when he started this scam……

  70. Another instance of real tech progress (shale gas) making a victim out of someone’s uneconomic ideas.

    I’m not saying wind and solar can’t compete with natural gas but given the quantity of natural gas now available and its proximity to the population centers that will need it they will need more than a few percentage improvements. They will need an order of magnitude better.

    I honestly think it can be done but we as a society need to keep in mind that we have to be honest with ourselves about which option is most cost effective. Heck even coal may have problems competing with natural gas!

  71. As to where to put the turbines might I suggest a location or two that are just about permanently windy and could heat things up with the wind like the Kerguelen and Aleutian islands. Keep all the extras for spare parts.

    Maybe some day we’ll figure out how to store massive amounts of electricity or hydrogen cheaply and then they can sell the excess.

  72. No time to read all the comments so this might be redundant, but…

    About a month ago the BBC’s idiot environmental correspondent David Shukman did a marvellously dishonest piece extolling the virtues of wind power – he managed to cover this topic without mentioning government subsidies – and he used Pickens’s ‘good works’ as one of his prime examples.

    Perfect.

  73. Wind generated power also challenges the reliability of the grid. Here’s a presentation by the California ISO:

    http://www.caiso.com/docs/2005/03/22/2005032215420815213.pdf

    Some issues–

    Wind generation varies widely over the day. Page 9 in the above shows a drop in wind generation of a 1000 MW in about 7 hours. Spinning reserves usually pick up the load when this happens. Later in the same day there’s a ramp-up of 800 MW over 6 hours.

    Page 10–combine cycle power generation is designed to handle base loads, cutting back on this generation drops the units into less efficient operation–more CO2 per MW produced. If non-operating units have to be brought online to cover the drop in wind generation the costs are very high.

    Wind generation is often out of phase with load (page 13). When it is hot it is generally not windy. It is usually not windy during the peak load in the middle of the day.

    This presentation is from 2005. I assume improvements in integration have been made, but the fundamental issues remain: we can’t control when it is windy, for every MW of wind you need a MW of conventional, ramping conventional generation up and down reduces efficiency. Demand response, AKA virtual power plants, can play role; pay people or industries to stop using electricity when generation falls off. Economics of demand response got to be interesting.

  74. >One item is concrete: Each tower foundation reaches a minimum depth of 25 ft and a maximum of 32 ft depending on bedrock depth and takes an average of 100 to 260 cubic yards of concrete.

    Google says there is 3,000 lbs of concrete in one cubic yard, so that is about 600,000 pounds of concrete for each wind tower. I live in the Northeast and two of our states that are heavily pushing windpower are Maine and Vermont. Both of these states have a history of fiercely protecting their natural heritage, now they are fiercely promoting constructing thousands of these monsters on their ridge lines.

  75. Erik Ramberg says:
    December 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm
    “If it’s less than 1, then such an installation would be an energy sink, not a source. This comment, if true, would be very confusing in a world where private businesses are ramping up production of wind generators.”

    While i don’t know an objective number for the EROEI of wind turbines, your confusion can easily be clarified: For businesses, EROEI is not important; for them it’s all about simple ROI.

  76. Wind power is a fraud. Last summer Texas set a record for electrical power usage on August 4 and then broke that record again on August 10. The west Texas wind turbines were setting idle on calm hot days when they were needed the most. Meanwhile the State of Texas has funded 4.93 billion dollars for electrical transmissions lines to bring wind farm power (that produce little power on hot summer days) to the larger cities. Since Texas is in the business of wasting the citizens money why don’t they do something with 4.93 billion that will save energy, like replacing 950,000 inefficient air conditioning systems with ones that will immediately put a damper on the August power consumption in Texas. I replaced my 10 SEER system with a 16 SEER heat pump and am saving an average of 450 kwh per month.

  77. T. Boone Pickens, got lost in the wilderness chasing the wind, and returns with a plan to pass gas.

    Will the taxpayer light his fire, again??

  78. polistra has it right. T. Boone was counting on a growing shortage of natural gas, and the attendant price increase in natural gas. That did not happen, as is well-documented. Shale gas is the innovation that killed wind-power. More specifically, the drilling technology (read: innovation by some clever guys) that allows for pinpoint-accuracy and horizontal drilling into beds of shale that contain natural gas.

    Wind power does indeed “back out” natural gas from power plants. Therefore, if natural gas were to increase in price, then wind-power would be more valuable. Only when natural gas price rises in the future, if it ever rises, will wind-power be economic on its own merits.

    T. Boone is first and foremost a natural gas man. He has seen the future, and it is cheap, abundant natural gas. In 2008, wellhead (USA) price was $10 and $11 per million Btu for natural gas. Today, in the dead of winter, a very cold winter, the price is right at $4.

    Now, if only the greeny-weenies could accomplish a major innovation for their favored technologies, such as the oil and gas men have done for producing natural gas from shale. Don’t hold your breath, folks.

  79. Erik Ramberg says:
    December 25, 2010 at 12:49 pm
    “These measurements, based on 60 existing installations, indicate that wind power has perhaps the highest EROEI of all types of energy generation installations. ”

    I notice these folks claim nuclear is at best 5:1. Something smells here.

    Over to you Charles Opalek. I bought your book on line.

  80. It’s too bad that there isn’t a way to direct wind/solar electric energy to those that insist that those are the only ways to save the planet. Let them then figure out how to run a civilization with adequate power available only 5% of the time. No backup sources allowed! I think the tune would change very quickly.

  81. “But a simple Google search finds many detailed studies indicating a very high EROEI of at least 20.”

    Windmills built of gold can have a high EROEI, but a low ROI, making them uneconomical for power generation. The advanced materials required to build and maintain windmills, coupled with the problems in load matching yield a poor ROI, as the EU is discovering.

  82. @Charles S. Opalek, PE

    Please document your claim that wind turbines EROEI is .29. Most other claims I have heard of place wind’s EROEI between 20 and 80.

  83. Murray Grainger says:
    December 25, 2010 at 7:38 am
    The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
    The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

    ‘For the times they are a changing’

    Indeed they are and i hope for the better?

  84. Just came by on a very windy day, the Elkhorn wind farm in Telocaset, near North Powder, ok Union, ok La Grande, well, NE Oregon, and before wife and my incredulous
    eyes half the farm blades Feathered…
    Gee what happens if we really get wind and the lights go out?..

  85. DanddyTroll, I know why someone would like water rights in Texas (I lived there for several years); what I don’t understand is how TBP could justify demanding water rights for wind mill work. That should have been a red flag since the two don’t have a natural connection.

  86. Hmm.. please pardon if this is a duplicate. I thought I posted but it is not showing up.

    Someone asked “What happens to Sweetwater Texas now?” (now that the subsidized wind money is going away).

    And someone else asked how water rights fit into the picture.

    Well, here’s how: you bring in Tenaska to build a
    Water-cooled, Coal-Fired power plant of all things.

    Coal is mined in East Texas, where there is lots of water, several hundreds of miles away from Sweetwater, which is oil and natural gas country, and dry as a bone. Here’s a map.

    So why can’t we have tiny residential wind units that would power individual outlets inside the house? Sort of like the small satellite dishes anchored to our roofs, with their own special “green” outlets that we could plug our toasters and hair dryers into?
    If someone can build me one for a couple of hundred dollars, I’ll budget to gradually buy several and even give as gifts.

  87. I talked to somebody the other day who had some wind people trying to lease the wind rights on some mountaintop land he owned in Tennessee. A lot of his neighbors had signed off on it. In reading the fine print, he noticed the lease gave the wind people the right to clear (and sell) as much timber as they deemed necessary to maximize the airflow.

    So, what it boils down to is an environmentalist scam to steal other people’s timber and clear cut for profit.

  88. In the U.S., we have chosen to obfuscate the economic facts of both wind and photovoltaic solar by subsidizing the technologies through back-door subsidies such as tax credits, accelerated depreciation and depletion allowances. Europe has chosen to subsidize entirely on the revenue end of the pipe where the subsidy is plain and clear for all to see. The following is their experience concerning the MINIMUM wholesale power rate required to sustain large-scale wind and solar:

    Onshore wind ………. 12-cents(U.S.)/kwh
    Offshore wind……….. 20-cents/kwh
    Photovoltaic solar….. 40-cents/kwh (This number is a theoretical minimum. Spain and Germany have actually had to pay in excess of 58-cents for 25-year contracts in order to attract developers. Spain has now found it necessary to abdicate some of those contracts as a matter of national economic survival.

    The above numbers are “at the plant fence” and do not include fixed utility transmission and distribution costs.

    Current average wholesale rate for the current U.S. electric power mix at the trading hubs is around 4.3-cents.

    Neither wind nor solar can ever achieve competitive viability because their inherently poor energy density yields outlandish capital costs that no amount of projected fuel savings can be expected to offset.

    CH

  89. Obama administration is putting the brakes on a lot of the innovations that have led to falling gas prices. Look for gas prices to “necessarily” start going back up.

  90. I actually met T. Boone Pickens once upon a time many years ago. He’s always been full of himself. I think he’s nuttier than Stanley Marsh 3. In the late 80s (or possibly as late as 1990) Pickens announced he was moving Mesa Petroleum out of Amarillo. At the time Amarillo had a population of about 160,000. Pickens predicted that without him and Mesa Petroleum that Amarillo would dwindle to a population of less than 100,000 within ten years. A local pharmacist named Jerry Hodge bet Pickens a million dollars that he was wrong. Pickens blinked and gave some lame excuse that he would NEVER bet against Amarillo. Well, today the population of Amarillo is about 200,000 and as far as I know nobody misses T. Boone Pickens.

  91. Al Gored says:
    December 25, 2010 at 6:16 pm
    Having just visited the Huffington Post Green website for the first time, I have a question. Are these people from the same planet as the rest of us?

  92. old44 says:
    December 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Yes. But they live in herds. With more points and little badges if you write comments that agree with the herd consensus. It used to be worse, believe it or not. A year ago questioning AGW, or merely using Gore’s name in vain, brought a horde of screaming attacks that would make the worst you see here seem like gentlemanly discussion. Now, despite their relentless biased coverage and spin, and their version of the Climate Thought Police always on guard, there are many more posters asking inconvenient questions and much smaller lynch mobs.

    Same trend for their Obama Love.

    In any case, Huffpo worth an occasional look to see what they are spinning and what that part of the planet is saying, and once in a while you find an article like the one I posted. How it got published there is beyond me. They prefer Simple Green.

  93. Al Gored says:
    December 25, 2010 at 6:16 pm
    “Not sure if this is redundant, but this is an interesting article that somehow appeared on Huffington Post… leaving some ‘green’ commenters there rather perplexed.”

    I like this comment at HuffPo, suggesting technical workarounds:
    “Slower moving blades reduce mortality, radar is used to detect the approach of migrating birds so turbines can be turned off, [...]”
    That would be fun to watch.

  94. Some things never change. Once upon a time a toothy president with a nuclear background promoted nuclear power and Yucca Mtn. federal spending. The sleight of hand on construction and safety costs, captive consumers impact, and long-term storage and disposal costs largely succeeded to a diasterous degree and then the same political party killed Yucca Mtn after its grand expenditure cycle had ended. Similar sleight of hand is used on wind power projects and component costs and replacement or deconstruction. The taxpayers will find out later and there lies the common thread.

  95. How does the calculation work?
    Say you have a 2.2 megawatt generator, and say there are 8760 hours in a years; this makes for 19,000 and some megawatt hours per year or about 19 million kilowatt hours per year. Further say that a kilowatt hour wholesales for 2 cents, but your turbine only operates 30% of full capability. This still grosses $133,000 per annum. Your mortgage costs on an $800,000 tower would be something like $60000 per year if you had a 6.5 % loan. Your land rent and real estate taxes would be something like $20,000 (using rents and taxes that I’ve heard of). We are still talking about $50,000 per year per tower to cover insurance and transmission costs.

    Remember that the power curves on these turbines are steep because the energy in wind increases as the cube of the wind speed. If your tower starts turning in a 5 mph wind a 10 mph wind has 8 times the power.

    I have to think that in the right circumstances these wind turbines are economic.

  96. There HAS to be something wrong with those numbers!

    There is no way in this world that they would be getting 66% of plated capacity EVER, let alone if half the turbines were iced up.

    They are giving the installed potential output figures, as they always do – to mislead and lie to the public. With the current slack winds in that area, I doubt if they are getting 10% of installed capacity as output.

    The whole industry is a fraud, and is being maintained by dreams, wishful thinking, cover-ups and lies.

    Oh, and even slight icing on the other blades, will cut theit output bu 30%.

    .

  97. Unfortunately for Mr. Pikens, the Ontario content requirements for green energy would eliminate the possibility that he can just sell his unused wind turbines to Ontario.
    “On October 1, 2009, The Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Program was implemented in Ontario, Canada. The program attempts to establish a firmer pricing structure for renewable energy in Ontario. The program covers wind, solar, all water-based energy sources and bio-mass. One aspect of this program is local content requirements for the project expenses involved in wind and solar projects, which are listed in section 1.1 b of the program overview document.
    These local content requirements are, from 2009-2011, 25% of costs for wind projects to be local (ie – from Ontario) and 50% of solar projects. From 2012 onward, these restrictions increase to 50% and 60% respectively”

  98. @Ricard Wakefield

    You plan to ‘do something’ about about subsidising wind in Ontario has merit. I also like the phrase above, “Split atoms, not birds.” Thorium-flouride. Yes.

  99. I plotted the UK wind power generation data for the last 3 months of 2010 and it show just what a folly wind power is as the best sustainable electricity source. In the UK the government hopes it is going to save us all from frying in the years to come. This morning it wa -10 deg C here.

    See the graph at the bottom of this page.

    http://www.akk.me.uk/Climate_Change.htm

  100. The median household income in 2008 was $52,026, meaning that for every $1 million the government causes to be wasted, we have set ourselves back by the annual income of about 20 families. Given the massive economic distortions involved in wind power, we have been destroying wealth that should be measured by the town and the county.

    And all this wind power equipment has been installed without nary a thought to the cost of decommissioning. In a few years, when government’s ability to sustain this fraud will finally be exhausted, the forests of wind machines in some areas will fall into a state of disrepair, and finally, disuse when the cost of repairs is even found to economically unsustainable. This will be some new insult to add to those endured by those who live close to the humming, whirring machines now. Idle eyesores to remind us of past madness.

    The left loves to scold the rest of us on the topic of “sustainability”, yet they happily insist that wind power is a “sustainable” source of power. This is yet one more proof of Margaret Thatcher’s quip that socialism is successful until they run out of other people’s money. Sadly, we can no longer afford to entertain or buy of the left by funding their mad schemes. Indeed, their mad schemes now are a threat to our lives and prosperity. It is time for some tough love. Just say no to socialist madness.

  101. @HankHenry

    $800,000 for a 2.2 MW wind mill sounds optimistic. So does a 30% capacity factor. Less than 10% is probably more accurate. Use the correct cost and capacity factor and re-do the calculations.

    $800,000 per tower might be in the ballpark for the transmission infrastructure cost.

  102. for the US:
    Nuclear power-traditional or perhaps Thorium power- on a scale the French are looking to achieve, built on military airbases. A purely electrical infrastructure to run 100% of the cars, etc. Ethanol powered aircraft….

    Solar powered dehumidifiers for water………..??

  103. Wind turbines are hideous eye sores. They kill birds more birds every year. How long is it going to take to fight this hair brained idea.

  104. Storage of energy in a cost effective way is what is required for any intermittent source. So unless your location has the ability for pumped hydro, compressed air or something else wind is a problem. Solar might be a bit better because it is more compatible with the end use (hot sunny days need more air conditioning and that is when solar cells work the best).

    On the good news side even if we decommissioned all the present nuclear (83? plants) and converted all the coal to natural gas we still have 50 to 60 years of supply. So we have 5 to 6 decades to figure out what next.

  105. mikeg-

    On the cost of towers I used the figure I heard from the group that developed a wind farm in Lee County, IL; so I can’t redo that part of the calculation. I should have added maintenance and decommissioning to “insurance and transmission” costs. Your 10% number seems overly pessimistic, but I’d be happy to redo the calculations for you if you can substantiate your 10% number.

  106. Even these exceedingly high “costs” by KWH are far too low. No maintenance costs are included in these costs, and no one knows either what future maintenance costs will be, or what the useful life of these facilities will be. Having had much experience in things mechanical, and knowing about natural corrosive and erosive factors in the environment, the maintenance costs will be exceedingly high, and the useful lifetime will be much shorter than . . . I have no figures to analyze or compare to, as I have seen no estimates as to what useful lifetimes are anticipated.

    Moreover, all of these “renewable” sources have greatly varying output, on a minute to minute basis. There is no effective way to modify supply to meet demand with any of these completely unreliable sources of power. It is difficult to do with steam turbine facilities, such as coal, gas and nuclear power plants, which are very reliable sources of power.

    And nothing can be deemed “sustainable” if the real costs can’t be met by all of the users. Plain and simple, we the American people can’t begin to afford the real costs of these fiasco schemes. What is being attempted is sheer folly.

    T. Booned Pickens should be referred to as T. Boone “Pocket” Pickens.

  107. I guess the taxpayer funded transmission lines to nowhere did not materialize. Try calling it windy ethanol and you might have more luck with the dollar/debt flow.

  108. The California Energy Commission has reports called: “Comparative Cost of California Central Station Electricity Generation Technologies”. As the name suggests, it gives the relative costs of generation for various technologies–wind, combined cycle gas, etc. They have an empirical model for that takes into account capital costs, fuel costs, maintenance costs, taxes, etc. Tax credits are counted as negative taxes.

    Here’s wind compared to advanced combined cycle generation for merchant plants:

    2007 (page 17 in the report):
    Wind: 99.03 $/MWh (including 12.57 $/MWh tax credit)
    Advanced combined cycle: 99.59 $/MWh (including $7.53 $/MWh tax)
    Remove the tax credit and you have: 111.53 $/MWh vs. 99.59 $MWh

    2009 (page 46 in the report):
    Wind: 65.47 $/MWh (31.88 $/MWh tax credit)
    Advanced combined cycle: 114.36 $/MWh (8.52 $/MWh taxes)
    Without tax credit: 97.35 vs 114.36

    The big difference between 2007 and 2009 is the assumed capacity factor for wind. In 2007 it is 34% vs. 42% in 2009. Both seem optimistic and costs are very sensitive to this number. I’ve been looking for some real data on capacity factors for wind turbines. Funny, in the reports they have capacity factor data for conventional generation but none for wind. There’s a lot of fine print in these reports. They will take a very careful read to fully understand. But, some interesting comparisons to the whole range of generation technology.

    Here are the 2007 and 2009 reports:

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/2007publications/CEC-200-2007-011/CEC-200-2007-011-SD.PDF

    http://www.energy.ca.gov/2009publications/CEC-200-2009-017/CEC-200-2009-017-SF.PDF

  109. I’d like to pick up on Wade, Smokey, and Harrywr2’s exchange from yesterday morning, dealing with the economics of residential solar.

    I think that such installations are more promising than Wade’s initial calculation, but only for the individual owner, not for the society. As it happens I am in the middle of installing on my own home. Here are my condiderations.

    The house is in a favorable area in Azusa CA. American Vision Solar has given a bid of something over $18000 for an installation rated somewhere around 2000 peak watts. They estimate the cost after federal & local incentives at something between 8 and 9 thousand dollars.
    My own rough estimate is that the installation will produce as much as 10KWh per day for 300 days a year. Currently, Azusa has a two tiered rate system; the top rate kicks in around 250KWhr per month, and is close to 15c a kilowatt hour. So my rough guesstimate is a savings of 15c x 3000, or $450 a year. Payback in this case would be about 20 years. Smokey will say this is 17 years too long, but I’m not sure I agree. I look at it as a long term investment that pays back 5% a year, tax free.
    And that’s at current prices. But there is every reason to believe that prices will rise significantly:
    1. Present federal policies practically guarantee significant inflation; the price of everything goes up.
    2. Upcoming changes in the auto industry are likely to greatly increase demand for electrical energy.
    3. Significant sectors of the environmental movement seek to raise the price of fossil energy to make it competitive with other sources. It appears they may well succeed.
    Take these things together, and I expect the price of electricity to double in the next 20 years. Which means that the payback time drops to maybe 10-15 years.

    So what’s not to like? Well, the taxpayer gets stuck with 2/3 of the cost, for one thing. And like many other government programs, money is being taken from people of limited means to give to others who can afford to take advantage of the offer.

    So, since I disapprove of the whole approach, why am I grabbing it? Simple: My taxes are helping to pay for this. Taking the moral high road just makes me one of the victims.

  110. Pickens has always been more of a scumbag who got lucky with Mesa than a business genius as he likes to call himself. It was obvious from the beginning that this was a scam. Even more so than most alternative energy projects that have no hopes of ever breaking even and couldn’t exist in the first place without government subsidies. My guess is Pickens has some other scheme in mind, but was hoping to scam the taxpayers along the way. Can’t think of anyone I’d rather see broke and living in a cardboard box.

  111. Tboone saw the tide shifting in 2007/08 he bet on wind , He had a nice pair to draw to a windmill and obama ,he asked for three cards and got cold winters, climategate, and the 2010 elections . Now he is folding because he has nothing and the truth is he does not care about climate and never did. It has always been about money and always will till this myth finally dies and is covered with snow.

  112. Called it. I hate to admit it, but I called it. I knew about his plan to buy up the rights to the Ogallala Aquifer rights, figured this had to be part of the scheme, and so it was.

    Wish I’d been wrong, but there it is.

  113. Re: Jon says:
    December 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    “The California Energy Commission has reports called: “Comparative Cost of California Central Station Electricity Generation Technologies”. As the name suggests, it gives the relative costs of generation for various technologies–wind, combined cycle gas, etc. They have an empirical model for that takes into account capital costs, fuel costs, maintenance costs, taxes, etc. Tax credits are counted as negative taxes.

    Here’s wind compared to advanced combined cycle generation for merchant plants:

    2007 (page 17 in the report):
    Wind: 99.03 $/MWh (including 12.57 $/MWh tax credit)
    Advanced combined cycle: 99.59 $/MWh (including $7.53 $/MWh tax)
    Remove the tax credit and you have: 111.53 $/MWh vs. 99.59 $MWh

    2009 (page 46 in the report):
    Wind: 65.47 $/MWh (31.88 $/MWh tax credit)
    Advanced combined cycle: 114.36 $/MWh (8.52 $/MWh taxes)
    Without tax credit: 97.35 vs 114.36″

    There is something seriously wrong with the quoted numbers. Capital plus fuel costs alone is a relatively simple calculation for CCGT. At current plant and natural gas prices, fuel and capital costs come in just north of $30 per Mwh for the CCGT plant using a 90% capacity factor (existing plants regularly exceed 90%) and a 5% financing rate. Taxes, insurance and O&M expenses add nowhere near the $66 per Mwh needed to achieve the $99.59 figure quoted from the CEC report. In fact, the current generation of CCGT plants come in at under $40 per Mwh.

    As to arguments over purported wind capacity factors and operating costs, the European experience is well documented because, unlike the U.S. where costs are obfuscated with “backdoor” subsidies and undocumented operating costs, European countries pay at the plant fence for all to see. The number for onshore wind is $120 (U.S.) per Mwh and for offshore wind is $200 per Mwh.

    The grossest figure recently published by W.S.J. for Europe was what Spain and Germany had been paying for photovoltaic solar before they regained their senses; $583.00 per Mwh! When bankrupt Spain pulled back to $400.00 per Mwh, several big operating solar plants went belly-up and hoards more are on the way down. The commercial bankers who financed those plants are screaming bloody murder.

    It looks to me as though the California Energy Commission is inventing numbers designed to take California into the same financial abyss where Spain and Portugal now reside.

  114. @Charles Opalek and others commenting on his EROEI.
    His numbers are true but his logic is way off. EROEI measures energy returned on energy invested at the moment of production; it does not factor in time. Therefore it is the wrong tool to measure energy investment of renewable sources. I believe global warming is a hoax most likely, but that doesn’t mean we should ridicule renewable enegry with false assumptions built on stats that don’t correctly measure what he’s attempting to say. Energy payback for wind turbines is 2-3 months in normal wind conditions. Therefore they are sustainable. Read a bit more.

  115. I live next to one of the largest wind farms in the USA located in the Altamont Pass.

    Windmills are beautiful and many people stop to take pictures of them. I’ve never seen a bird killed by one which is not to say it doesn’t happen on a rare occasion. But the fellow doing the research here “Dr. Smallwood” is very questionable in my opinion and I believe his data is seriously made up as a lot of his bird kills happen when the windmills are not spinning during the winter.

    That said there are two huge problems with wind. One is total capacity as another poster mentioned. Wind here is very low for nearly 6 months of the year! So there is no battery back up system that is going to work. Wind is very high for 3 months of the year. Two, is short term capacity issues. In fact they do not capture all the available capacity from the wind even when it is available for a couple of reasons like energy surges and synchronization. I’d guess the capacity usage is less than 10 to 15% when averaged for the year.

    The Altamont Wind Farms are slowly dying out as the turbines are not being replaced when they fail and a new natural gas generator is being installed near the wind farm.

  116. Re: Claude Harvey says:
    December 26, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Claude,

    I hear you. Like I said, lots of fine print. Perhaps most telling of the report objective is the cost of advanced combined cycle went up from 2007 to 2009 despite the fact that fuel prices dropped considerably. That is hard to believe, but that is what the report says.

    Capacity factors are part of the equation. In many areas it is mandated that the grid take wind power when it is there. This will force backing off or shutting down conventional generation, thus reducing its capacity factor and increasing cost.

    Fortunately the report does seem to clearly document how they get to those numbers, so it is possible to challenge the results in a logical manner.

  117. Lets go with what works for a change!
    32 of 50 are deemed poultry states. Utilizing poultry waste (which contains pathogens) and food waste (which rot in landfills), heat and electricity can be produced all year, rain or shine, wind blowing or not.
    If the power companies do not wish to purchase the electricity just pipeline bio-gas straight to a manufacturer for on site generation of heat and electricity like the landfill gas capture. No fracking, water contamination, or emissions and a good ROI.
    I’m ready are you?

    http://www.moderntechnologymethods.com/

  118. Pickens had no real interest in wind power. He’s all about pushing natural gas and fracking, always has been. The wind was simply a ploy to lure potential environmentalists and most were too smart to come on board with his plan. We have a home wind turbine, solar water heating and a home heat pump/geothermal heating system, in addition to our wood-burning Swedish stove. We pay little for power. Many months we receive credits for the winter months using our tiny wind generator.

    Using alternative energy sources requires more than simple black-white thinking. You don’t expect an efficient gas-powered home furnace to pay for itself in savings over a year, why would you do the same for wind? Wind doesn’t work in all places. It’s not designed as a stand-alone power source, as prairie settlers in my area were well aware. Solar is excellent for water heating in most areas, and can be quite inexpensive. Solar, of course, can’t supply needs for an entire home.

    Anyone attacking a power source for a lack of storage, misidentifies the problem. The concept of putting up wires everywhere to transfer electric power is absurd. The most efficient, and inexpensive, use of power is to make it where you use it. Hydrogen fuel cells at the site of municipal offices has done well in our area supplying everything necessary for a fairly large building. Hydrogen fuel cells also operate municipal buses in the Chicago area. It’s not about one-size fits all energy production. Let’s put some folks in charge with the ability to look at the big picture and handle the complex energy demands—as well as fight the monied interests intent on keeping their hands in our pocketbooks.

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