Newest target of copper thieves: wind turbines

IMG_20140524_195347[1]

Wind Turbines at Rio Vista, CA in May 2014 – Photo: Anthony Watts

From France24: A sophisticated network of metal thieves has targeted some 20 French wind turbines in a new looting trend, scaling the near 40-metre-high structures and stealing up to one tonne of metal from a single engine, Le Figaro reported Wednesday.

Citing an anonymous police source, the daily newspaper said the ring stole metal from wind farms in sparsely populated areas, where they had less chance of being caught.

“They cut the power to turn off the engine propeller motor,” the officer said, noting the thieves broke through the doors at the bottom of the turbines, before using the stairs to reach the engine which is located at the top – often as high as 40 metres off the ground. “By using bolt cutters and makeshift tools they then cut and ripped out the whole metal wiring, which is mostly made of copper,” he said.

The officer said a metal raid of a single wind turbine engine could amount to as much as one tonne of loot. One tonne of copper is estimated to be worth around 4,500 euros on the  market.

According to Le Figaro, at least 20 such incidents have been recorded recently. Two successful raids and one foiled attempt were reported in March alone.

http://www.france24.com/en/20140528-france-metal-organised-thefts-wind-turbines-copper/

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
pat

how funny. still, the copper price is better than ***below:
29 May: SMH: Bloomberg: CO2 market hurt by Australian, Russian policy, World Bank says
Efforts to put a value on greenhouse- gas emissions to contain global warming are being hurt as countries from Australia to Russia and Japan pull back from carbon-reduction commitments, according to the World Bank.
“While some nations are taking concrete steps forward on carbon pricing, recent developments in others are a setback,” the World Bank said in its State & Trends of Carbon Pricing 2014 report published on Wednesday. Policy changes amount to “two steps forward, one step back,” it said…
Russia said last month that the UN-endorsed goal of capping rising global temperatures shouldn’t dictate countries’ emission limits in a new climate treaty for 2020…
Emissions trading programs worldwide were worth about $US30 billion ($32.5 billion) at the end of 2013, according to the bank, which excluded United Nations emissions credits created under the Kyoto Protocol. The value of global carbon markets, based on transaction volumes and including UN credits, fell 36 per cent last year to about $US56 billion, Bloomberg New Energy Finance data show.Costs between pricing programs “occupy a significant range,” the bank said.
***An emissions tax in Mexico is less than $US1 a metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, while Sweden’s carbon tax is $US168 a ton, according to the report.
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/co2-market-hurt-by-australian-russian-policy-world-bank-says-20140529-zrrcg.html

pat

btw the clearest signal yet from the Opposition that Australia’s carbon tax will go:
28 May: Reuters: James Regan: UPDATE 1-Australia’s opposition leader concedes carbon, mining taxes to go
Australia’s opposition Labor Party on Wednesday said two contentious taxes on mining and carbon emissions introduced during its years in power would likely be repealed this year…
Greenpeace environment director Ben Pearson said he was disappointed that Shorten had “put out the white flag” so soon.
“There was an opportunity to tell the world that an industrialised country like Australia was not headed backwards on the environment,” Pearson said. “That’s now been lost.”…
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/28/australia-tax-opposition-idUSL3N0OE11620140528

H.R.

So the stolen copper will be recycled into windings for the wind turbines…
Sounds a lot like economic perpetual motion to me.

“They cut the power to turn off the engine propeller motor” – LMFAO 🙂

Dena

Two years ago I was house hunting and I found people would open the air conditioners for the copper (I am sure they didn’t correctly harvest the freon). They would steal the breakers and even pull the wire out of the wall. Combine that with missing appliances and just outright damage, some people will steal and damage most anything for very little reason. The builder my house was still building and set up flood lights and cameras to prevent damage to houses still under construction. Making over $6000 american for one day or night of work would be very tempting. On the other hand, the salvage yards should be watching out for anybody with a large pile of copper and they should report it to the police.

ossqss

How much do those turbines cost?
Ya think they would at least install an alarm of some sort on them and the access to them.
Instead of: Look, the wind stopped on FA432 , but not the others….

Finally, crooks doing something for the benefit of mankind. How about awards for these
wonderful thieves? Of necessity wind turbines are generally located in unpopulated areas.

Colorado Wellington

If Gaia cries as a wind turbine is robbed of its copper and no climatologist is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Louis

“They cut the power to turn off the engine propeller motor”

I thought the whole point of a windmill was to produce power from the wind. Why do they need a propeller motor? Does cutting the power cause the propeller to lock up so it stops turning? Or is there some other explanation?

john karajas

Serves them bloody well right! To get copper you have to mine it out of the ground which is an evil thing. I know this because the great Australian actress Toni Collette told us so.

Gamecock

Did the officer just reveal that they are all completely fake?

Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
Another reason to abandon windmills sooner rather than later.

Louis

Has the unprecedented increase in the theft of copper been added to the list of things caused by global warming?

Gamecock

Copper thieves around here will do $10,000 damage to get $50 worth of copper. I have a friend who builds steel cages to protect air conditioners. Rural churches are his best customers.
Looks like the windmill thieves will do hundreds of thousands in damage.

NikFromNYC

Copper is one of the very few colored metals. These green energy guys might was well fill these remote towers with gold. Let’s claim these guys as civil disobedient “monkey wrench” activists, on our Quixotic skeptical side, out saving the world from power grid instability, a bit misguided and overly enthusiastic, but their hearts in the right place.

Eric Worrall says:
May 28, 2014 at 6:16 pm
“They cut the power to turn off the engine propeller motor” – LMFAO 🙂
———————————————————————–
Likely not true in this case because there was no-one to impress, but a friend of mine who worked for a major utility in the 1990s told me they would run current to the generator to make the demonstration windmill turn whenever VIPs, etc., were visiting.

jones

Maybe they stole the copper out of necessity and pay their energy bills?

Gamecock says:
Copper thieves around here will do $10,000 damage to get $50 worth of copper.
True dat. I had a shopping center about 8 years ago when the price of copper went sky high. Thieves stole all the copper A/C drain pipes off the roof. It would have cost around $20,000 to replace them with copper, and that’s what the building code required. But I used PVC. Cost about one-tenth as much.

Let the drug heads of the world know is all that I can say. Then let them out on probation when they get cought. Great solution to a sick solution.

rogerknights

At minimum, a law should be passed requiring salvage yards to photograph, fingerprint, and photocopy the ID of anyone selling scrap copper.

rogerknights

The turbine designers should have built in stronger security and alarm systems. Thieves’ eagerness to strop copper from structures has been well known for decades.

rogerknights

I’ve read that the reason for motors to turn the blades is mainly to prevent the bearings from developing flat spots during windless days.

Katherine

Typo in the headline. It should be “thieves”
[Thanks, fixed. ~mod.]

Richard Day

If this happens on Earth Day, are they given pardons when caught?

Personally, I wish someone would take a bazooka to them. The windmills, that is, not the thieves.

ossqss says:
May 28, 2014 at 6:25 pm
How much do those turbines cost?
Ya think they would at least install an alarm of some sort on them and the access to them.

The BUILDERS of the wind turbines don’t care => THEY make (er, made) THEIR money from the construction tax credits and the financing tax credits to the manufacturer (you can pay for a nice factory in a new city with wind turbine start up money if you don’t care about long term profits!) and from the installation tax credits and carbon credits/rebates on the POTENTIAL of the wind turbine output.
All of those of course are “green energy” subsidies, so the politicians sending the money OUT get all of the glory and glamor.
The SMALL amount of power actually produced does not ever come into play, and the maintenance and periodic repairs are very, very expensive for anything. Much less a small little itty bitty ( 1.5 to 0.5 Mwatt) power plant 300 feet up a tower 60 miles from the nearest supply store. So the maintenance won’t get done by the utility or company that bought the land from the developer/politician/green energy company. In 7 -10 years, less than 10% will be running. Look at the even smaller, easier to maintain turbines in California passes. The 10 and 15 year old turbines are NOT running, and those are in a perfect, near-ideal location!
By the way, why worry about cutting power? Trip the output transformer for the field and steal it too! I’m surprised they haven’t begun blowing the towers down … makes it easier to get to the busted motors and cabling inside.

AussieBear

It is the asinine statements like that from the Australian Greenpeace bloke, that I cancelled my donations to the organisation.

rogerknights says:
May 28, 2014 at 7:34 pm
At minimum, a law should be passed requiring salvage yards to photograph, fingerprint, and photocopy the ID of anyone selling scrap copper.

That is the law down here (red state, SE US): Yo don’t even get cash after passing over the ID and having your truck tag recorded. you get a check for aluminum, copper, brass, A/C coils, batteries … everything that pays for recycling. its a royal pain, and I’m not convinced it actually does prevent theft. Just penalizes everybody who is moral and ethical.

Olaf Koenders

I believe the motor’s in there to steer the blades into the wind, not to turn the blades.

lol

fromdownunder

well, me think that stealing copper from the wind turbines are pretty safe compared to stealing wiring from a live coal power plant which might be several thousands time more.

ossqss

RA,
I think you might also find this interesting. It goes beyond the cost of protecting millions of dollars worth of equipment from assault with an access control or alarm system that reports a status from a limited access area. The costs for such is trivial.
These costs are not.
http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/310631/more-realistic-cost-wind-energy

Willhelm

And why is this a bad thing?

Andrew N

john karajas (6:56pm) :
Toni Collette only uses the finest organic free-range carbon-neutral ethical copper available to wire her house.

Chris4692

RACookPE1978 says:
May 28, 2014 at 7:58 pm

The BUILDERS of the wind turbines don’t care => THEY make (er, made) THEIR money from the construction tax credits and the financing tax credits to the manufacturer (you can pay for a nice factory in a new city with wind turbine start up money if you don’t care about long term profits!) and from the installation tax credits and carbon credits/rebates on the POTENTIAL of the wind turbine output.

What grant or tax credit program gives construction or financing tax credits? The only Tax credit I am aware of in the US is a $0.023 tax credit per KW-hr generated for the first 10 years after construction, given to the energy producer not the manufacturer. See http://energy.gov/savings/renewable-electricity-production-tax-credit-ptc
That would require the wind generator to function and actually produce for the tax credit to continue.

Nice theory. But that ain’t how it works. The turbines finished construction (for example) on 31 December 2012 were eligible for the credit. Those which finished 2 days later (on Jany 2, 2013) were not eligible. Construction peaked (of course!) in late 2012, then immediately fell to 2% of the December levels when the money went away. Remember, RESALES of the finished turbine get the money to the builder, not the future owner who will be shafted by expensive maintenance while generating no power. And, by the way, the real expense maintenance is after 7 and 10 year point!)
More money trails? (And state money is even more corrupt! ) Solyndra for example, made their billions FIRST, then fired the people and went bankrupt after two years.
Following from http://www.newsmax.com/US/wind-power-tax-credit/2013/12/31/id/544617/

Travis Fisher of the Institute for Energy Research said the wind tax credit “has artificially propped up the wind industry at the expense of taxpayers.”
“It is inherently unfair because it is a very targeted tax credit that basically favors one particular energy source. Furthermore, the subsidy has not managed, as it was intended, to create a sustainable industry,” Fisher told Newsmax.
“No one is breathing a sigh of relief because we do not know yet what Congress will do when it comes back in January.”
If the extension were granted, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the annual cost in lost revenue would be $6.1 billion.
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/US/wind-power-tax-credit/2013/12/31/id/544617#ixzz334ixE2ml
Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!

When the PTC was introduced in 1992, it was meant to be a temporary measure designed to support emerging energy sources, primarily wind power.
The short-term investment tax credit has morphed into a long-term subsidy despite the continuing growth of wind power. As the American Wind Energy Association notes on its website, wind energy “growth was 30 percent on average for the past five years, helping the United States serve as a major market for wind energy globally.”
Loris said: “Wind energy exists primarily as a consequence of the subsidy, and their business model is based on getting those subsidies. There is only one way to find out if the industry is sustainable, and that is to let the PTC expire and let wind energy stand on its own.”
The PTC is not the only subsidy at the disposal of wind producers. Included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in 2009, wind producers were afforded the choice of receiving the Investment Tax Credit, which allows them to deduct 30 percent of the investment cost on their taxes, rather than the PTC.
The Institute for Energy Research compared the subsidization of various energy sectors and calculated that subsidies for renewables grossly outmatched those for oil, gas, and nuclear.
Loris advocates eliminating all subsidies, including those to the oil and gas industry, in favor of instituting broader tax reform, including an across-the-board lowering of tax rates.
As in years past, outside groups are weighing in heavily on the PTC’s fate.
The major supporter of the PTC extension and additional subsidies for renewable fuels is the AWEA. According to OpenSecrets.org, the group spent $2.4 million on lobbying efforts in 2012 and $1.5 million in 2011.
In early December, the American Energy Alliance launched a comprehensive lobbying campaign against the extension, which included targeted advertising and background briefings for members of Congress and their staffs.
“For decades, American taxpayers have bankrolled the wind industry, and the time has long passed to allow the PTC to run its course,” AEA President Thomas Pyle said. “This tax credit was always intended to be temporary, but Big Wind has grown addicted to taxpayer subsidies, spending millions year after year to extend and even expand this unnecessary and expensive taxpayer giveaway.”

Chris4692

I am wondering if the reference to “motor” in the article actually refers to the generator. The article likely was written in French, by a non technical journalist, translated From French to English by a non technical translator and edited by non technical Editors at each end. There is lots of opportunity for error.
It’s possible also that a generator, back-fed electricity could act as a motor and turn a windmill if it was needed for some reason. I question whether such a feature is actually needed as I have seen many windmills sitting in calm air without moving for hours-long time periods.
If a separate motor was needed to rotate the blades to save the bearings, it would only need to be a very small motor of a few horsepower. The blades would be well balanced, the motor would not have to fight the wind, because in those conditions it would not be needed. That motor would not have anywhere near multiple thousands of dollars of copper in it’s windings.

boondoggle9945

No they are just environmentalists trying to stop the mass slaughter of eagles, birds and bats

u.k.(us)

How much power runs thru these copper wires, it might seem the power/wind must be off to avoid the plasma wire shortage event.
I’ve been close to a 85,000V wire laying on the ground/grounding.
All I wanted to do was move farther away.
I was ~100 feet away, the pressure waves went thru me like the bass drum at a rock concert.
Be careful out there.

Following from ossqss link above:
May 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm

These costs are not.

http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/310631/more-realistic-cost-wind-energy
GROSSLY EXCESSIVE WIND ENERGY SUBSIDIES

Thus, the total levelized cost of wind energy averages $151/MWh with NG back-up/balancing and $192/MWh with coal back-up/balancing.
Absent economically-viable, utility-scale, energy storage, variable/intermittent, non-dispatchable wind energy cannot exist on the grid, unless balanced by dispatchable coal, gas and hydro plants. For that reason, any levelized costs should be stated as a combination of:
– wind energy balanced by coal energy
– wind energy balanced by gas energy
– wind energy balanced by hydro energy
The Taylor/Tanton report may or may not overstate, but it certainly performs a useful purpose to attract attention to the heavily-subsidized, wind energy boondoggle, and the inane crowing about wind energy being at grid parity, and the inane crowing about it lowering grid electric rates (BTW, not the rates of rate payers), whereas, in fact, that is merely so, because of the various subsidies, such as:
– accelerated depreciation to write off the entire project in 5 years, 50% in the first year, just for wind turbines, plus
– the 2.3 c/kWh production tax credit, PTC, for 10 years, or
– in lieu of the PTC, receive a 30% investment tax credit, ITC, or
– in lieu of the ITC, receive a 30% CASH GRANT at commissioning of the project, in case the wind turbine owner claims he has no taxes due against which to apply the ITC; “1603c clause of ARRA”, plus other
– government grants, low-cost loans, and loan guarantees, plus
– the socializing, via rate schedules, of various other costs that are mostly hidden/not-easily-identified, as explained in detail in the ATI report by George Taylor, Ph.D. and Thomas Tanton, each with decades of experience analyzing the economics of energy systems.
http://eelegal.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Hidden-Cost.pdf
With enough money, even pigs can be made to fly, and even wind energy can be made to appear at grid parity, with much of the costs foisted off onto the public via the rate schedules, the tax code and government hand-outs..

Hmmmn. Actual cost of “free” wind energy is 151.00 to 190.00 per Mwh, eh? Not $3.50?

Chris4692 says:
May 28, 2014 at 9:24 pm

It’s possible also that a generator, back-fed electricity could act as a motor and turn a windmill if it was needed for some reason. I question whether such a feature is actually needed as I have seen many windmills sitting in calm air without moving for hours-long time periods.
If a separate motor was needed to rotate the blades to save the bearings, it would only need to be a very small motor of a few horsepower. The blades would be well balanced, the motor would not have to fight the wind, because in those conditions it would not be needed. That motor would not have anywhere near multiple thousands of dollars of copper in it’s windings.

Those motors are very, very large. (Heavier than your car. Turning blades “wings” larger than a 737’s wing, and heavier than a 707 wings. Remember, average capacity is only about 20%. But more than 1/2 of the time they are producing no energy at all. Not even that measly 20%. Some random hours and some random days, they DO produce 100% power. You can’t tell when. Nor where. Nor how long. Which is why Germany often (not always!) pays them to dump that exess, can’t be used energy to the dirt as heat.
So, again, nope. From that same link above.

NOTE: In synchronous (3,600 rpm) standby mode (high-speed idling, 24/7/365, no or minimal energy sent to the grid), the fuel consumption is 6 to 8 percent of rated fuel consumption.
Extra balancing NG fuel adds $6.00/MWh, extra balancing coal fuel adds $9.00/MWh
Transmission system investments to gather energy from the wind turbines and transmit it from less populated areas, via HVDC and HVAC lines, to population centers adds $27/MWh.

Olaf Koenders says:
May 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm
I believe the motor’s in there to steer the blades into the wind, not to turn the blades.

That is another large motor inside the nacelle. It also has to be continuously energized and controlled or the uncontrolled nacelle movement DOES crack the blades with excess stress.
Add lubricating motors, oil cooling motors, regulator motors and all of the exciter regulator loads ….
Not to mention that big red light on top!

Chris4692

RACookPE1978 says:
May 28, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Nice theory. But that ain’t how it works. The turbines finished construction (for example) on 31 December 2012 were eligible for the credit. Those which finished 2 days later (on Jany 2, 2013) were not eligible. Construction peaked (of course!) in late 2012, then immediately fell to 2% of the December levels when the money went away. Remember, RESALES of the finished turbine get the money to the builder, not the future owner who will be shafted by expensive maintenance while generating no power. And, by the way, the real expense maintenance is after 7 and 10 year point!)

You apparently did not read the link I provided to the US Energy Department Description of the Production Tax Credit. In order to be eligible for the tax credit for the next 10 years under the program the Energy Producer had to have the facility installed before the program expired on Dec 31, 2012. So not knowing if the program would be extended, the Producers had strong incentive to get them installed before the program expired, and the manufacturers would want the sale and would rush the production, and the installers would hurry the installation.
Your extensive quote says nothing about who receives the credit. Your quote says nothing about a program to subsidize construction. The link I provided is the only tax credit I am aware of that applies to wind energy: it is a production tax credit to the producer, when the energy is produced. This is the program that expired at the end of 2012 and was later extended.
If you know of a construction or manufacturer tax credit, provide an authoritative link.

Awesum!!!.. Good luck to the theives..
[No. Hope they are not killed by their own acts. .mod]

Chris4692

RACookPE1978 says:
May 28, 2014 at 9:42 pm
In response to my comment at 9:24

Those motors are very, very large. (Heavier than your car. Turning blades “wings” larger than a 737′s wing, and heavier than a 707 wings. Remember, average capacity is only about 20%. But more than 1/2 of the time they are producing no energy at all. Not even that measly 20%. Some random hours and some random days, they DO produce 100% power. You can’t tell when. Nor where. Nor how long. Which is why Germany often (not always!) pays them to dump that exess, can’t be used energy to the dirt as heat.

Of course the amount of energy produced by the generator or its frequency of use has nothing to do with the amount of power needed to turn a set of blades to protect the bearings, or the size of a motor needed to turn the assembly, which is the issue at hand.
The mass of the blades is not that important either. The mass of some of them is going down while the mass of others is going up. They are balanced. Have you ever seen a Corliss Engine? They have a massive flywheel driving a belt. Absent that belt the 12 ft diameter flywheel can be pushed by one hand, not fast, but speed is not needed in this case. There would be inertia to overcome, but if the purpose was to turn the rotors in the absence of wind to protect the bearings, there would be no hurry so there would be little acceleration involved. The bearings may need to be moved to prevent flattening of one side, but it seems to me more likely that the shaft supporting the blades and driving the generator would be more likely to need to be turned to prevent setting a bend in the shaft.
The whole unit could be turned into the wind with a large gear attached to rotate the assembly, a worm gear, and a small motor. Achieving the objective via leverage rather than horsepower.

John F. Hultquist

Louis says:
May 28, 2014 at 6:40 pm
“They cut the power to turn off the engine propeller motor”

I thought the whole point of a windmill was to produce power from the wind. Why do they need a propeller motor?

The words used seem a little odd but here is a guess. The blades need to be positioned to the wind so as to get optimal performance. If the turbine is not producing enough power to accomplish the task then power is brought in from an outside source – sort of a search mode to find the wind. The thieves would, I think, pick a night with no wind so there isn’t any power coming out of the tower (and nothing to set off an alarm). Still, the searching mode would have to be stopped and that would require cutting the power. [The towers I can see from my home have turbines that can produce electricity at wind speeds as low as 9 mph. They reach their peak of production at 31 mph and shut down at constant wind speeds above 56 mph.]
http://www.pse.com/inyourcommunity/kittitas/Pages/Wild-Horse.aspx

Chris4692

RACookPE1978 says:
May 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Not to mention that big red light on top!

I will apply the /sarc

Greg

Louis says:
“They cut the power to turn off the engine propeller motor”

I thought the whole point of a windmill was to produce power from the wind. Why do they need a propeller motor? Does cutting the power cause the propeller to lock up so it stops turning? Or is there some other explanation?
===
Explanation? Journalists have no idea of the subject they are reporting and don’t bother checking basic facts. But we knew that already.

Chris4692

John F. Hultquist says:
May 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Louis says:
May 28, 2014 at 6:40 pm
“They cut the power to turn off the engine propeller motor”

I thought the whole point of a windmill was to produce power from the wind. Why do they need a propeller motor?
The words used seem a little odd but here is a guess. The blades need to be positioned to the wind so as to get optimal performance. If the turbine is not producing enough power to accomplish the task then power is brought in from an outside source – sort of a search mode to find the wind.

Here’s my guess. Any accessories: electrical controls, sensors, aiming motors, other accessory motors, and lights would normally be powered from the grid, not from this particular windmill. The voltages would be from 110v to 480v, (not matching the windmill voltage output) and the accessories would be needed whether this windmill is producing or not. These support requirements would never be met directly from the windmill itself.

Greg

Dena: “On the other hand, the salvage yards should be watching out for anybody with a large pile of copper and they should report it to the police.”
In France you cannot sell scrap to a scrap yard without presenting ID which is noted for later inspection in the case of police enquiry.
If you roll up in a van with a ton of cut windings you are going to get spotted very quickly. I guess the thieves must have another route. Higher up the chain maybe.