Eastern States Promote Offshore Wind Systems, but Offshore Systems Are Expensive and High Risk

By Steve Goreham

Several eastern US states are planning major investments in offshore wind. Wind turbines are touted as clean, green, and economically sound. But experience from around the world shows that offshore wind systems are both expensive and at high risk for early system degradation.

The governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia have signed executive orders or passed laws to procure offshore wind systems valued at billions of dollars. Officials are eager to win leadership in what is perceived to be a new growth industry. The US Department of Energy has funded over $200 million in offshore wind research since 2011.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a law in 2016 requiring utilities to purchase 1,600 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind systems over the next 10 years. The law requires that wind systems be “cost effective to electric ratepayers.” But history shows that costs are likely to be far above the New England wholesale market price of 5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Massachusetts paid solar generators a subsidy of 25 cents per kilowatt-hour during the state’s solar build-out in 2013. Rhode Island’s Block Island wind system, the first offshore system in the United States, now receives over 27 cents per kW-hr, with an annual guaranteed rate increase of an additional 3.5 cents per kW-hr. New England residents must enjoy paying renewable generators more than six times the market price for electricity.

In May of last year, Maryland’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved electricity-rate increases to fund two wind projects east of the Ocean City shoreline. Maryland’s residents will pay an additional $2 billion over 20 years in increased electricity rates to support the projects. The Maryland PSC claims the systems will create jobs and spur economic growth, but analysis shows that rate payers will pay $200,000 for each of the estimated 9,700 jobs created.

Also in 2017, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced approval of the South Fork Wind Farm off the coast of Long Island, stating “This project will not only provide a new reliable source of clean energy, but will also create high-paying jobs, continue our efforts to combat climate change and help preserve our environment for current and future generations of New Yorkers.”

But are offshore wind systems reliable? Ocean-located turbines face one of the harshest environments on Earth. Turbines are battered by wind and waves, struck by lightning, and need to endure salt spray that is very corrosive to man-made structures.

In February, it was reported that Danish wind operator Ørsted must repair more than 600 wind turbines due to early blade failure. The blades are to be disassembled and brought to shore for repair after only five years of operation, at a cost on the order of $100 million.

Then in March, it was announced that wind turbines at the 175-turbine London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind system, would also need major repairs after only five years of use. Few offshore systems have made it to the end their specified 25-year lifetimes without a major overhaul.

Wind turbines sited off the eastern US coast must survive brutal weather compared to offshore turbines in Europe. From March 1 to March 22 of this year, four powerful extratropical cyclones, called nor’easters, battered our east coast from Virginia to Maine. These storms produced ocean storm surges, large snowfalls, wind gusts of up to 100 miles per hour, and even 20 tornados.

Specifications call for wind systems to withstand gusts up to 156 miles per hour, but this isn’t good enough for some of our Atlantic hurricanes. Last September, hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico with Category 4-strength winds and destroyed many of the wind turbines on the island.

Strong hurricanes occasionally collide with our eastern coastal states. The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 brought Category 3 winds to New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 delivered Category 2 winds along the coast from North Carolina to Maine. Hurricane Carol in 1954 and Hurricane Gloria in 1985 brought Category 3 winds to the shores of the wind system-promoting states.

Finally, the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane of 1821 passed through most of the proposed wind turbine sites with up to Category 4 wind strength. The expensive wind systems planned by Atlantic States could all be destroyed by a single well-placed hurricane.

Offshore wind turbines are expensive, prone to early degradation, and in the case of the US East Coast, at risk in the path of strong hurricanes. State officials should reconsider their plans for offshore wind systems.

Originally published in The Daily Caller, republished here at the request of the author.

Steve Goreham is a speaker on the environment, business, and public policy and author of the book Outside the Green Box: Rethinking Sustainable Development.

121 thoughts on “Eastern States Promote Offshore Wind Systems, but Offshore Systems Are Expensive and High Risk

    • We are suffering from a great push to advance technology based upon “data-free” analyses. In the real world we call that “guessing”.
      Is anybody at least collecting data on the failure modes and rates? With no memory how does one learn?

      • It’s not a case of data free analysis, it’s a case of ideology overriding logical thought and common sense. Blind Freddy can tell you it’s destined to fail, but the Green ideology doesn’t allow for dissenting opinions and it doesn’t care anyway, because the money is coming from a public purse they consider has no limits. When it does fail they will simply say the damage was the result of climate change and we need to build even more turbines, resulting in more inevitable failure.

      • Take global warming out of the picture….and would anyone in their right mind be putting up windmills?

      • and very low density too. Lots of acres per MW are required whereas Nuclear produces MWs per acre

    • It is pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain that the marine environment will demand a range of additional engineering responses to any structure or vessel that operates there in general, let alone in an area prone to hurricanes. It is implicit in the fact that only the oil and gas industry has gone for offshore structures and they can cover costs (and then some) with a steady, high volume, constant flow of a very high energy density product that is an easily transported commodity.
      Wind, wave and tidal are low density and intermittent.

    • We need a way to “weaponize” NIMBYism.
      That way, we could just hook the Kennedy clan up to the power grid.

    • How about bicycle powered generators? They’ll have us peddling every night to charge up the communal electric vehicle.

    • There is no ‘quest for expensive energy’ – these are subsidy farms; the generation of electricity is a byproduct of subsidy farming. This is shown to be true as mandates and subsidies are needed for these ‘farms’ to exist, If they were a good idea for profitable electricity generation all the State governors needed to have done was approve their construction and industry would be pestering to be allowed to build them without any subsidy. Windfarms particularly offshore windfarms are a loss making business without subsidies. As soon as subsidies stop the subsidy farms are abandoned to rot as monuments to the unbounded stupidity of politicians.

  1. ” law in 2016 requiring utilities to purchase 1,600 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind systems over the next 10 years. ” What in the world is this supposed to mean? megawatts is not a quantity of power, but an intensity of power.

    • Yes, it tells you a lot about the decision-makers be that they don’t know the difference between energy and power.

      • Do you expect miracles?? They don’t know the difference between carbon and carbon dioxide or semi-automatic and automatic.

      • barryjo
        I wonder if many of them know the difference between their @r$e and their elb0w.

    • Capacity factor of Danish offshore wind is less than 50%, so expect or get about <800 MW of capacity output

    • And, the same applies to storage systems. All of the announcements give us the number of megawatts that can be produced, but not the megawatt hours. Can I get those megawatts for 10 minutes or an hour? Makes a very large difference.

    • What about the smothered land and uninhabitable soil beneath those ‘solar arrays’?
      Damn the plants & wildlife, full speed ahead!

      • I see that effect whenever I drive on I-91 in Southern Vermont. In 2014, they took over 12 acres of prime farmland.

        Over 8,000 ground-mounted photovoltaic panels comprise the 2 megawatt system which on a clear sunny day will produce 40% of Brattleboro’s electrical needs. Since breaking ground on May 15, 2014, the project has employed a local workforce in excess of 75 people with more than 18,000 labor hours.

        Needless to say, here in New England, a clear sunny day can be a very seasonally oriented event. Not mentioned in the article is the enormous tax break given to the investors. by both the state and federal gubnuts. See https://recsolar.com/press/2-mw-in-brattleboro-vt/

    • That’s the next finger pointing game. The wishful dreamers will cry that they wanted wind energy without making noise…or slowing down the wind.
      Of course one should also note it is many of the same individuals who think electricity magically emanates from a socket in the wall.

      • Electricity is magic. It’s invisible, works in ways no one but the really, really smart people get and no one can really understand it. Which is why it’s such a great scam!

    • Ahh, they are below the water, and besides, they aren’t bothered by a little infrasound, are they? (/sarc for those who need the indicator)

  2. Government doesn’t invest; government spends.
    Calling spending an investment is political trickery.

      • Steve,
        No, tax credits are subsidies, in that the government is writing you a check; it is just deferred until the end of the year. If you had said “tax deductions”, then I would have agreed with you. There is a big difference between the two.

  3. If and when an offshore wind farm is damaged by high winds, we will no doubt be assured that the storm was “unprecedented” and caused by “climate change”. Hence it could not have been predicted; climate change is getting changier and the solution will be to build more offshore wind farms to prevent it happening again.

    • Like when houses get damaged? Its wasn’t poor planning nor the fact that living in a hurricane area means your home can be ripped to pieces, it was climate change. Sure….

      • Then the insurance companies will only pay to have your house rebuilt to the same EXACTINGLY POOR standards as the original sub-par structure

      • You can certainly replace your Honda with a Mercedes.
        You just need to come up with the price difference between the wholesale blue book value of your Honda and the price of the new Mercedes (less your deductible and any outstanding balance on the Auto Loan for the Honda).
        But then Auto insurance is different from Home Owners Insurance. Additional modifications to your home over and above the cost of a like for like replacement would be Out of Pocket expenditures and the Insurance Company would need to agree to the modifications (and likely need to see proof of your additional funding) before they will pay their portion and approve reconstruction.

    • SR,
      It’s a feature, not a bug!
      You obviously don’t understand the first thing about progressive economic theory. If a windmill gets destroyed by a hurricane, that’s a GOOD THING. It will generate millions of dollars of new economic activity and more and more high-paying green jobs. Key point, all of those folks vote.
      Plus there is a huge multiplier effect. Somebody will have to manufacture the replacement blades from materials that some other company produced and that need to be transported and stocked in warehouses. Massive barges will be needed to transport back and forth to the site, everybody involved will be eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the local restaurants.
      They should probably intentionally make windmill blades out of flimsier material, to ensure more frequent economic benefits. We should model the average track of historical storms and site the windmills in the highest probability areas for damage. Research grants will be needed to develop the models and make sure that they are not accurate. If hurricanes don’t come, new grants will be needed to create worse models. And to compensate, we can intentionally damage the windmills, so that new ones are needed, sort of like the old Cash for Clunkers program in the glorious Obama administration. Some of the replacements could be dropped into the sea as soon as they are finished, as long as that doesn’t cause any environmental damage.
      As for the problem claimed about actual capacity factors being 50% or less, there is a simple government solution. Put a label on the turbine that says it will work at least 120% of the time and just make that a mandate. Mass production will overcome the laws of thermodynamics.
      As for the problem with uneconomic prices for power, duh! Regulators just set the price at 2 cents per KW-h.
      This is not some laissez faire economy. We have modern regulations.
      It gets tiresome having to explain these things to you folks All rational people know about this stuff. How do you get by in life?

  4. Wait a minute. I thought we were in for increasingly frequent and stronger hurricanes and n’easters due to global warming. Hasn’t anyone told these people these increased risks?
    And in the winter, now that global warming is causing record breaking cold, what are they to do when these massive highs drop into the area and winds go to calm? Maybe they can just pipe in more NG.. oh wait.. maybe they can truck in more oil to run the diesel generators to stay warm.

      • Of course. They’re reducing the wind hazards by siphoning off some of the wind energy to make electricity. Given sufficient turbines, that should drop those nasty hurricanes down to the tropical storm category.

        • You joke, but there are undoubtedly many who would believe that. All you need to do is make a conservation of energy argument. If kinetic energy is converting to electricity, the wind must slow down passing through the windmill. It’s basic science. Therefore it’s a significant effect. The same kind of fallacious thinking is employed every day in service of the CAGW theory.
          The basic fallacy is that the scientific principle is valid, therefore the effect is significant.
          Another example of this, consider when I walk through a room in my house during the winter time. My climate-destroying oil burner is in use. My body temperature, being around 37C and my room being around 21C, I am going to radiate heat more than my surroundings are going to radiate, and so I will warm the room. Therefore my house is warmed by body temperature during the winter. The oil burner doesn’t enter into it, right? Now I observe that the temperature varies between 20C and 22C roughly speaking. I can’t explain why it sometimes goes down, but I’m certain that 100% of warming from 20C to 22C must be due to my body heat. (now that’s the true definition of anthropogenic warming).

      • Just one small problem.When the wind blows over about 55 MPH, the blades are “feathered” and the nacelle is turned into the wind. The effect then being like a picket fence.

  5. Well, at least it’s easy to fix the corrosion problem — just plate the whole thing w/gold.

  6. The graphic is obviously fake! Cat 3-4-5 hurricanes could not occur when CO2 was 300ppm!

  7. Why hully gee! A proposal for offshore wind power at only five times the cost of current supplies?

  8. Why is an offshore oil drilling platform an eyesore but a forest of man made steel windmills isn’t?

  9. If some evil capitalist wish to build something of similar size and bottom impact but to make a profit they would never get the environmental permits approved. In fact this might be a way of stopping this idiocy; get a lawyer to sue using the same methods as the environmental community does. I once dealt with buying equipment or replacing equipment someone else had poorly purchased. The equipment was going to be subject to the trials and tribulations of being at sea 24-7. We often could not get through to people how destructive the ocean environment is. My guess relative to the politicians passing these mandates is they have done focus groups and polling which say their electorate fully support such mandates and construction but know nothing about the technology. They know that maintenance will be a major headache but not until they have retired from office. No body will come back and punish them for making really dumb policy decisions.

    • That’s the biggest perk of government—people in large groups never get sued for really dumb policy decisions. Shared responsibility, safety in groups, etc.

    • Edwin,
      Too right.
      The marine environment – salt, water, temperature swings, and variation – is not good for ‘kit’.
      If it is properly ‘marinized’, it will have a decent lifespan of a decade or so [with reasonable preventive maintenance . . .].
      If not, I regret that a nice bit of kit will be reduced to various iron oxides in a few months.
      Now if it is on a ship – and at deck level – it can be replaced fairly easily [at a fairly modest cost].
      If it is a hundred or more metres up, and weighs a tonne or more, replacement is more easily imagined than done.
      You need a crane big enough to lift a tonne – or more – to a height of over a hundred metres – in a gentle seaway, where everything rolls and pitches and yaws. Otherwise the new widget impacts the surviving nacelle – to mutual detriment . . . . .
      Bits of kit like that are not cheap to hire, and the professionals needed to drive them need paying respectably, too.
      As many readers here would guess – or know.
      So marine wind power [apart from its effect on local birds – making “seagull soup”] needs to be well designed and well-built [so – ‘NOT Cheap’] – and carefully installed.
      Good luck with that!

  10. It’s amusing that the northeast liberals will soon get a dose of the medicine they have been pushing elsewhere. I hope they love the increased price of electricity and the blackouts that will occur. I wonder if Cape Cod, Kennebunkport, and Martha’s Vineyard will have some of these within view of their precious towns. Bet that will make a big splash!

  11. It looks like a no lose plan. Any storm damage, any at all, can be labeled superstorm damage for federal bailout funds.

  12. There are some limited cases where offshore makes sense. For instance, Block Island is an island with limited (non-existent I believe) interconnects to the main grid. Their electric power comes mainly from diesel, and so the competition is not with wholesale electric but with Diesel generators. In this case the math is pretty close.
    New York and Long Island – Severely congested lines to the main grid. Adding higher cost electricity on the NYC side of the interconnect has the ability to lower prices overall since it does not require the massive upgrades and rights of way that would be required on the western side of that interconnect.
    Overall though it is unlikely that offshore wind will compete with traditional power generation in terms of cost.

      • The power company generally will have contract agreements with large users who will taper their usage during times of high congestion. If you have another supply of electricity downstream of the bottleneck even if the supply is intermittent the number of hours per year that the bottleneck is reached will be fewer.

    • Chad, the competition is not between wind and diesel, they are both required for a functioning system. And the diesel system must be maintained and ready to go at all times to accommodate sudden drops in the wind speed and accommodate long periods when there is no wind at all. The Spanish island of El Hiero has such a system and in addition has a pumped storage system to “save” some of the wind energy when the turbines are making too much electricity. See https://demanda.ree.es/movil/canarias/el_hierro/total for a continuous data on how much power is coming from wind, diesel and water. The site is spotty and sometimes does not work as well as it should.
      Roughly half of the island’s electricity comes from diesel over a year. At times all does. See http://euanmearns.com/ for a series of reports on this system. Go to the El Hiero portal.
      The El Hiero wind/water/diesel system produces electricity at a cost of somewhere between about $.80 and $1.23 per kwh, depending on who you wish to believe.

      • Yes, any such a system is freaking expensive. That is why in these cases offshore wind is viable. It is not trying to serve Dallas, Texas with some of the lowest cost electricity on the planet. Instead it is middle of nowhere Island where diesel is boated over and used to run generators. When that is the system the hurdle is pretty low.

  13. When George Orwell wrote “Animal Farm” he chose the windmill to represent the boondoggles that oppressive governments create in order to make an appearance of progress.

  14. When George Orwell wrote “Animal Farm” he chose the windmill to represent the boondoggles that oppressive governments promote in order to create an appearance of progress.

    • L.Frank Baum ( originator of The Wizard of Oz) and George Orwell (originator of 1984 and Animal Farm) are the 2 most prescient writers in history. More money and lives have been lost by adhering to the evil ways of thinking that those 2 authors demonstrated in their books than anything else in history except the money and lives lost by adhering to religious thought. So the 3 evils: Religion, Communism, and ECO thought(which includes the Ozone and global warming scams) have wrought by far the most damage to the human race.

      • It really is sad the way you have to ruin an otherwise cogent statement by your anti-religion bigotry.
        The vast majority of so called religious wars were in reality plain old everyday politics. If they hadn’t had religion as an excuse they would have fought over something else.

      • MarkW I do not seek to offend you – your religious beliefs are your own and you are as entitled to them as anyone, but I notice many left wing folk use the same argument to distance themselves from Stalin (et al) *after* the fact. ‘oh no, that wasn’t communism fault, he was just a bad man doing bad things..’.
        The Yazidi and Mandians live with an ongoing ‘kill on sight’ attitude from another group who base their murders on religious grounds. Cathars, Gnostics, Zarathustrians, Christians, Hindu, Islamists, Buddhists along with many others have faced persecution and death within their own communities by others identifying themselves and their causes on religious grounds.
        In the case of any authoritarian division or structure, the authoritarianism creates the structure that permits the abuses. To my eyes religions with a deity create the ultimate form of authoritarianism. I know this is not the intent of any religion, but neither was it the intent of many left authoritarian political systems.
        Again, please don’t take this as an attack on you personally or your beliefs, if you see it that way I apologize, I’m just stating what I see and the parallels are too strong to ignore. I don’t doubt you would call out and question any abuses that could possibly occur in the name of your religious group, but you are one person – with many other followers your voice could be perceived as the enemy as has happened before.

  15. He left out “Superstorm” Sandy. That was only category 2 but caused widespread destruction due to poor building codes.

  16. They should take a lesson from the UK, where offshore wind costs about four times that of conventional generators and is highly unreliable (not to mention short-lived and difficult to maintain). In other words – a financial disaster.

    • Philip,
      I still wonder what part of ‘offshore’ is understood by politicos, boosters, and mere subsidy miners.
      Of course, if a person’s job depends on not understanding something, it is astonishingly difficult to make them understand!
      [Not original, but I have idea of the origin!]
      Offshore – at sea, is a very awkward – even hostile – environment.

  17. “The governors of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia have signed executive orders or passed laws to procure offshore wind systems”
    And yet, these same states (and probably these same governors) have passed laws to block drilling off their shores. hypocrite much.

  18. “1,600 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind systems over the next 10 years.” ?????
    One 2 M watt wind turbine could deliver more than 1600 M watt hours of energy in one year under optimum conditions.
    However it takes Eighty 2 M watt wind turbines to provide an average of 1600 M watts of continuous energy over ten years during 10 years of optimum wind and maintenance free operation.
    Perhaps they mean to install 1600 M watts of nameplate capacity over the next ten years.
    What is a pig in a poke?

  19. When they get enough windmills, they will turn them into motors to speed up or slow down the earth’s rotation. Use that “wind chill factor” to offset global warming OR cooling.

  20. The Obama legacy of economic and environmental stupidity continues….
    Will Justin Tru-d’oh(!) try to picket these across Lake Winnipeg and Hudson Bay next?

  21. E$xtensive damage to offshore turbines was dome by Hurrican Seenoevil in 2020. “The insurance bill makes this a very expensive hurricane’ Said Green E. B’Stard. “That’s the cost of global warming”.

  22. State officials should reconsider their plans for offshore wind systems.
    Politicians never reconsider their brilliant ideas. The cost is not on them it’s on the consumer

    • yeah, it’s amazing what wasteful hair-brained ideas get the green light when its OPM that’s being spent.

  23. It seems as though the swivel-eyed eco-loons will keep tilting at wind factories, in order that the subsidies can continue to be milked. The culprits ought to be tarred and feathered.

    • Are we still allowed to ride them out of town on a rail?
      Musk’s evacu-tube – let alone his Boring Holes – seem not to have quite the same emotional impression!
      Just saying, of course.
      Elon is plainly a visionary in his milking of BIG subsidies.
      But he allows Virtue-signalling greenie watermelons, even in ‘Sarf Lunnon’, to show they ‘Care’ – by driving a Tesla Wheeled Incendiary.

  24. Well, the good news about Maryland windmills is that they will get blown down before the salt corrosion will cause them to be rebuilt or recycled – and all on the Federal Disaster dime. See, MD government is smarter than it seems having a built-in free repair/replace/upgrade path.
    There was an old slogan in the early 80s that’s appropriate now: Maryland. Oh what a state I’m in!

  25. and here we go again – windmills – paranoid brains at work.
    They are a hasty, ill-conceived, poorly thought out panic response to what we all know is an entirely imaginary problem in the first place
    (Air temp in my garden dropped to 1.2 degC at 05:00 this morning, soil temp was/is 14 degC. So where is this GHGE?)
    Windmills = an engineering disaster. No engineer is his right mind would hang a huuuuuge vibrating & rotating weight off a single ended shaft. How many bearings support the crankshaft in my/yours/everyone’s Dirty Diesel? 2 for each cylinder.
    Yet wind shear is constantly bending the shaft and wrecking the bearings
    Windmills should have 2 legs supporting the shaft (bearing at each end) and the blades rotating between the legs.
    Then they’re made from plastic resin. In a outdoor environment chock full of UV radiation. Madness
    Is there really no way of engineering the things from metals?
    Airplane designers manage somehow.
    So we see that even normally clear headed and tell-it-as-it-is practical engineers on these things have been sent into Panic Mode.
    Then they should *never* have been connected into a fixed voltage and fixed frequency grid. They should have their own mini-grid and be used to grind rocks (corn?) and compress gas. As happens to 30% of all electricity used in the UK. You do not need computer grade electric to crush rocks or drive compressors making liquid oxygen.
    Get them to make Dry Ice and give it away at supermarkets. Folks could then have fridges/freezers (air-cons?) that are simply insulated boxes. Wouldn’t the ozone layer recover nicely then?
    There goes yet another epic panic to another imaginary problem.
    At what cost?
    All down the line we see and get one panic response after another.
    Is there anything on this Earth that we humans are now *not* scared sihtless of? Anything?
    That’s the *really* scary thing – everybody seems to be frightened of everything, even the weather and each other

    • Dry ice? OH MY GOD!
      Do you even know what dry ice is? It’s solid CO2!
      First of all, we’re already doomed because the CFCs are so stable that they will last for millions of years catalyzing ozone depletion, and now you plan to emit gigatons of deadly carbon dioxide.
      This kind of talk needs to be criminalized!

      • what is this CO2 you speak of..? alls I know is carbon is bad coz TheGore told me. I is educated scientist – I did the universities and got the degrees in sport science. You must be crazy person because u disagree with consensuses.
        – Wingnut McLambchop

  26. Off-Shore Wind-Turbines are certainly a leader in the competition for “Greatest Money Waster of the Year” After a few years the rusting hulks of the storm-destroyed towers will be seen, abandoned and polluting the Ocean.

    • But they will be good fishing spots. 🙂 Fish love our derelect misadventures, especially shipwrecks.

      • And some off-shore oil/gas structures, too, are [and will be] used as fishing grounds.

  27. All great arguments but absolutely no cloud to change the set policies. And so we win on arguments but loose the war.

  28. I thought it had become obvious from past experience that unreliables increase electricity costs, but I guess it’s not obvious to some people.
    They have such high hopes and it will end badly.

  29. Block Island agreed to the wind farm in order to get a connection to the mainland grid for the first time. Previously all power was on-island diesel, and not very reliable. The prospect of consistent power (and not necessarily wind power) was worth more to the residents than the blight of the wind farm, only visible to about one third of the island. Connection to the mainland, of course, was necessary to get wind generated power to the mainland grid. Block Islanders are probably counting on the grid connection outliving the wind farm by a century or more!

    • Exactly right. And who wants to bet that over the proposed lifetime of the project, the net effect will be current flowing TO Block Island?

  30. Offshore windmills could certainly become a huge source of high tech jobs. Almost as productive as breaking windows to insure high employment for glaziers.

    • This bit always cracks me up: “Officials are eager to win leadership in what is perceived to be a new growth industry.” Ya kiddin me. That’s like Avis saying that they in a leadership position in the automotive industry. They are not, they are consumers which is true for wind farm operators.

  31. Here is data which few know about the turbine projects that are planned off the MD and Delaware shores.
    As many as 200 turbines are planned in three phases, a close as 12.5 miles from shore. 8MW turbines are over 700 feet tall, taller than the Washington Monument.
    There has been no consideration of the potential negative impact on coastal tourism, the coastal economy, home values, rental rates, business, and the general beach environment.
    The turbines will increase power bills by $177,000,000 per year, for the 20 year life of the project, or 3,5 billion in total.
    The turbines will create 60 permanent jobs (not the 9,700 promised) at a cost of $3,500,000 annually for 20 years each.
    The turbine companies will be paid 13.7 cents per kWh, which is 400% more than what residents now pay for energy generation from conventional sources.
    And here is the kicker…..the consultant hired by the State of MD to review the proposals found there would be no regional environmental benefit to these projects, that CO2 emissions in the region will actually increase due to the wind projects since the wind power will replace low CO2 emitting natural gas fired energy.
    This is an abomination that must be stopped. There are three ways to go, the Federal Level (coast guard concern for navigation safety, lots of shipping in this area, National Park Service, concern for viewshed of Assateague National Park), legal opposition (there are grounds) and push back by citizens who are largely un aware of what is about to happen to them or what the truth is about the poor economic/environmental benefits of these projects, they simply have been misled.

  32. Those pictures of wind turbines so close to the ocean surface show shortsightedness. Don’t they know sea level is rising so fast that in just a few years the blades will be thrashing water? 🙂

  33. Of course wind power would never survive without subsidies – it is a terrific waste of resources. However, I do question this from the article: “Few offshore systems have made it to the end their specified 25-year lifetimes without a major overhaul.”
    I doubt there are any 25 year-old offshore systems in existence.

      • “In 2010, the Danish Megavind technology platform presented a new vision and strategy for offshore wind. The aim is to drive down the cost of energy from offshore wind farms, and for offshore wind power to become fully competitive with newly built coal-fired power by 2020. Three main achievements are needed between 2010 and 2020. Firstly, newly built offshore wind farms must be able to produce roughly 25% more electricity per installed MW. Secondly, the costs per installed MW must be reduced by approximately 40%. And thirdly, the cost of operation and maintenance per installed MW must be reduced by about 50%. Cost reductions at this scale are also considered necessary to maintain public and political support for large-scale implementation of offshore wind in Europe and globally. Ultimately, delivering the solutions will maintain Denmark as a globally leading hub in wind power.”
        Anybody claiming wind power is currently competitive with fossil fuels is either ignorant or lying. The Danes were talking about a SIMULTANEOUS 25% increase in efficiency, a 40% capital cost reduction and a 50% reduction in O&M costs. Just to BECOME competitive!

    • But, even there have been NO offshore wind systems operating even 15-20 years, is not the statement true: “Few offshore wind systems have made it to their end of the specified 25 year lifetimes” ? 8<) /lawyer excuses.

  34. Amongst all the negative articles here, WUWT, on wind energy in general and offshore wind energy in particular, we have this bit of reality from Berkeley Laboratories.
    A new “holistic” analysis from Berkeley Lab details grid conditions under a high-renewable energy scenario. If Solar and Wind Hit 50% of Generation, US Wholesale Energy Prices Could Fall 25% or More, per the Berkeley Lab study. That’s approximately $17 per MWh below today’s pricing.
    So, who is right? The nay-sayers at WUWT, or the reality from those investors and policy-makers who make these things happen?
    Every year that passes brings better and better economics for wind turbines. Land-based wind farms in the US are profitable without subsidies at $43 per MWh, and offshore in Taiwan was just announced at $100 per MWh, unsubsidized. Larger turbines mean fewer turbines so less costly maintenance, and much larger turbines are in the works. GE, for example, just announced a 12 MW turbine that is almost 50 percent larger in output than the largest thus far installed.
    The cost reduction that onshore wind turbines demonstrated over the past 20 years will be repeated in the offshore arena. Nothing can compete with electricity from wind. So say many reputable outfits, such as Lazard (worldwide financial advisory and asset management services firm), in a study titled “Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – Version 11.0”
    Lazard got a few things wrong in their analysis; mostly on nuclear power; see my comments on this at “Renewable Energy Better Than All Else – Unsubsidized”
    Another reputable firm, Morgan Stanley, also states that wind energy is the lowest-cost form of electricity production.

    • Everything looks rosy if you: 1) can drop load whenever you want; 2) don’t price in load-following services; 3) don’t price in frequency support; 4) don’t calculate costs net of subsidies; 5) etc.

    • In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.
      We have a highly publicised experiment here in Australia where South Australia, the state that has embraced wind, has consistently the highest spot price for power and, some say, the highest retail price in the world. OTOH Queensland which has no wind mills has the lowest in the four state grid. Qld has also consistently exported 1 GW in a 22 GW grid to the power starved south.
      Tasmania which calls itself “the battery of Australia” because of it’s hydro generation is isolated a second time for months because of failure of the DCHV link. The more wind generation the more we depend on these transmission lines so they need to be duplicated. This cost should be accounted for when calculating levelised cost of generation. So too should the cost of spinning dispatchable reserve but they ain’t.
      To watch our experiment in real time goto:

  35. Why don’t we just apply the laws about investments and publicly traded group to state “investments”?
    The promoters would have to provide honest and complete information.

  36. Hell, ON-Shore wind systems on the Eastern seaboard of the US are expensive and high risk. A classic water pumping windmill in Florida gets shredded by even a category 1 hurricane and they’re 60x sturdier than large wind generators.

    • But warming and more energy in the atmosphere will make weather less extreme around green investments (sixth principle of postmo thermodynamic).

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