FAIL: symbolic Fukushima wind turbine to be removed – “too expensive to run”

The big wind turbine that couldn’t.

A floating wind turbine built off Fukushima Prefecture to symbolize recovery efforts after the 2011 nuclear disaster will be removed, a government source has said.

The offshore power facility was put in place at the Fukushima Prefectural Government introduced renewable energy after the triple-reactor meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in the days following the massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Experimental studies were conducted with a view toward commercialization but the turbine, one of the world’s largest with a rotor diameter of 167 meters, was deemed unprofitable due to multiple malfunctions decreasing the utilization rate.

“At present, we are considering a method of removal because the maintenance cost is too high,” the government source said Friday.

The turbine is one of three on a floating wind farm 20 km off the coast of Naraha.

The price tag to remove the ¥15.2 billion ($134,481,133) turbine, which has an output capacity of 7,000 kilowatts, is expected to be around 10 percent of the building cost.

Studies on the two other turbines are due to conclude in fiscal 2018, but the study period is expected to be extended to seek any possibility of commercialization.

The turbine started operating in December 2015 but was riddled with problems.

Its utilization rate over the year through June 2018 was 3.7 percent, well below the 30 percent necessary for commercialization.

The two other turbines, of different sizes, have utilization rates of 32.9 percent and 18.5 percent, respectively.

Read more at Japan Times

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79 thoughts on “FAIL: symbolic Fukushima wind turbine to be removed – “too expensive to run”

    • The San Gregornio or Beaumont Pass in southern California is littered with the rusting hulks of these tax dodges.

      • Tell me about it. I used to live in Redlands, and whenever we went out the I-10, we’d drive past this endless array of wind turbines. Most of them weren’t turning no matter what the wind condition, which, in the Beaumont Pass, was almost steady state gale force. If any place on earth could host a profitable wind farm, it’s that place. But it is a bust. And a massive eyesore.

        (I used to quip to my ex-wife that it wouldn’t be so windy there if only they hadn’t put up all those fans. That’s probably one reason she’s my ex-wife.)

        • Michael S. Kelly: In a gale force wind, these puppies have to shut down. As you know, the wind power goes up as the cube of the wind speed, so what is a gentle zephyr can quickly turn into a blade-destroying monster.

          • So you are saying that they put turbines up that can’t handle high winds in a place that has “almost steady gale force” winds? That’s even more stupid! Are you sure that’s the point you wanted to make?

          • So…they’re useless where the wind doesn’t blow, and where it blows a lot? I think I’m beginning to detect a pattern here.

    • For wind turbines, a “hangar queen” would be a…blow-job.
      I couldn’t help it, I’m an ex-GI.

  1. Surely the world is on the downward trend from all this green fantasizing, it was so fashionable about 15 years ago, but now it is a broken dream.

      • Takes money. NC is poor. Probably more a gambit for Fed infusion of cash to boost the local economy.

      • From time to time you see declarations of turning points in the battle against alarmism. But it is so very politically useful, it exists long after any scientific sanity resurfaces. Once you give it political life, the science is irrelevant.

  2. I don’t think you can peg the capacity values at which a wind turbine becomes “commercially viable.”
    Since the turbine is not controllable, the value of its power output is limited. I think the Japanese have
    restarted a half dozen of their nuclear plants. If they had any sense and weren’t so frightened, they would have all of them back online by now. A large portion of Japan’s power has traditionally been nuclear, and allowing those plants to idle, while importing fossil fuels has proven quite expensive.

  3. What does this phrase mean?

    Its utilization rate over the year through June 2018 was 3.7 percent…

    It’s only “used” 3.7 percent of thetime–it has only 3.7 percent output from what is expected… I don’t udnerstand what a “utilization rate” is, apparently.

    • It means a theoretical max capacity Watt produces 0.037W for real, on average, but not when asked, only when the utility is not broken, and wind blows.

      Nuclear produces almost 100%, and almost always during peak demand.

      • And off peak times too
        And during dark winter days
        And when clouds pass in front of the sun
        And at night
        And at 90D N or 90D S when there is no sun for 6 months
        And when the wind doesn’t blow
        And when the wind blows too strong
        And produces ZERO Carbon Dioxide output

      • Nuclear power is the only sane way to go for most countries. Eventually it will win out when enough people get tired of going with other routes that only generate intermittent, unpredictable and expensive power.

        • In France pretty much all the commentariat has been trashing the EPR (European or evolutionary reactor, who knows?) design saying it was too complex, unpractical, impossible to run, a design that should be abandoned, a project that even EDF dislikes (don’t know who they are talking to at EDF, but even EDF must have a bunch of clowns)… now that an EPR is online and producing power, they aren’t saying anything.

    • It means that if is rated to produce X watt/hours per day, in reality it only produced 3.7% of X on average. That’s terrible, even by wind turbine standards. A nuclear plant is something like 98 or 99%.

  4. 20 $/W(capacity). That’s quite a pricetag when your W is 3.7% utilized. Remember a modern nuclear reactor may give you 1E9 W with less than half the price and 99% utilization.

    • Even if we assume that it ever produced the nameplate 7,000 kW, that still works out to an installed cost of $21,132.75/kW. (I don’t know how a utility calculates their demand charge, maybe there is an accountant for a power generating company that can tell me how to calculate a demand charge to ensure enough cash on hand to replace a piece of machinery at the end of its life?) Further, if we work through the numbers, assuming it started operation December 1, 2015, and ceased operations right now, you achieve an amazing incredible $22.32/kWh. At that cost, what would your present home electric bill turn into?

      • That leaves out all maintenance and repair costs, BTW. It’s not clear from this blurb if those costs are included in the “…¥15.2 billion ($134,481,133) turbine…” pricetag.

    • They worked just fine in the 14th century, as the ancestor who gave you his name would have attested, Mr. Miller.

      They were working fine well into the 20th century too, milling grain and keeping the polders in Holland dry.

      Just these high-tech monsters that have trouble. And they kill birds and bats, and they are eyesores that seem to cover all the beautiful hills in Scotland.

      • If Mr Miller’s ancestor had any brains and wanted to stay in business he would have been using a watermill to grind his wheat, not a windmill. Windmills were just as useless in the C14th as they are now, that’s why watermills took over in any place that had a decent stream as soon as they were reinvented (the Greeks had them a couple of thousand years earlier).

    • Windmills to do work dates back to the 4th and 6th centuries. Wind does have it’s uses like pumping water on farms for cattle, but power generation in this energy intensive world, no!

      • Said windmills (I grew up in Texas, I have seen windmills) were set up with adequate storage so that a few days or even weeks without wind did not put your herd at risk. The water tank to accompany a windmill driven water well was huge (relatively speaking, the windmill pump often made 5 gpm or less), often 30 feet in diameter (this works out to thousands of gallons), sufficient that the hands could go swimming at the end of a hot and dusty day. The cattle didn’t mind drinking after you had been swimming in it, even if you did pee in the pool. But, if there was a windstorm coming, you raced out there to pull the pin so the vanes flopped loose, or you were going to most likely tear up the windmill, shear some gears in the drive, possibly ruin the pump, and if it got through all of that without damage, you probably overflowed the tank. This one has been feathered: https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/b/windmill-american-west-old-fashioned-to-provide-water-to-homestead-rural-western-texas-36070768.jpg

  5. The head pic is very symbolic. The turbine seems to be asking: ‘Why?’ – to which there is no logical answer, only dogmatism.

  6. It’s expected to cost $13.4 million to remove that thing?

    It floats, right? Just pull the plugs and let it sink. Let it would become $134,000,000 worth of fish habitat and might do some good that way. 😉

    • TDBraun

      What a good idea.

      Cut it loose and see how long it would last relative to the iceberg reported today on WUWT which has been bobbing around in the Southern Ocean for 18 years!

      If that’s not an advert for ‘the pause’ I don’t know what is.

  7. Sorry, there was no “meltdown,” none of the cores were ever breached. The radiation levels were also quite low.

    • No meltdown but “All three cores largely melted in the first three days.” ??
      Fukushima Daiichi Accident(Updated October 2018)
      Following a major earthquake, a 15-metre tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors, causing a nuclear accident on 11 March 2011. All three cores largely melted in the first three days.

      http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/safety-and-security/safety-of-plants/fukushima-accident.aspx

        • They melted, but it’s not a meltdown because containment wasn’t breached?

          I think you have a pretty funny definition of what a meltdown is.

          A containment breach is a breach of containment.

          • Nuclear meltdown is not a defined term by any Nuclear authority, you can argue this junk all day long. The term tends to be used in irrational layman discussions and both sides butcher the use.

          • …then why all the gnashing of teeth that went on about trying to figure out where one of the cores were at? Didn’t they have to resort to some sort of muon detection device to glean a possible location?

          • Think of butter in a bowl. Put it in the microwave, give it a few seconds and you have liquid in a bowl, that’s a melted core. If you picked a Styrofoam bowl, and continued heating, soon the bowl would crumple up and you’d have butter all over the rotating tray in your microwave, that’s meltdown. See the difference?

        • There is “meltdown” and there is “melt through”. And then “melt out” for some writers.

  8. Hmm.
    Floating wind turbines are being installed in the Cromarty Firth, N.E.Scotland.
    I wonder if the design is different.

  9. From the Grauniad, rather mixed news concerning nukes…
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/30/belgium-energy-crisis-nuclear-reactors-shut-down-electricity

    I can see a couple of coal burners across the fields from the end of my little country lane here – they have been puffing away very very merrily this last week.
    Also been following/watching a little renewable energy forum (rabid anti-nukes), even they are concerned about Belgium. =Amazement.
    Coz, if there happens a Flash French Frost, Sudden Global French Stormes de la Niege, avec Blizzards au Brittany, pue t-etreaussi Du Locally Inclement Ooh La La Change de la Climat, *we* here in the UK might find ourselves short of juice.
    Vive le Paris! haha
    Don’t you miss the Romans, they knew how to make decent concrete.

    • Got an email toady ‘your website dials are wrong, we should be importing electricity from France’
      ‘Er no, today its cold still and overcast across MOST of Europe and France and indeed Germany are all importing power. France chiefly because irrational fears over reactor cracks have led to lots of scheduled long shutdowns.

      I didn’t see Belgium was also in crisis till you pointed it out.
      LOL. The wind is always blowing somewhere. Today it was the North of Scotland and that was it for the whole of Europe.

  10. Climate alarmists tell us that wind power is now cheaper than “fossil” fuels. $134 million for 7 MW = almost $20 million/MW and it was functional 3% of the time. So it would take 33 of these to = 7 MW. Highly modified 14 century technology is still obsolete technology. Isn’t it well past the time for willfully ignorant voters and corrupt government officials to give it up? This was an expensive way to prove that bigger isn’t better for offshore wind. OK, nice try but it didn’t work. Intermittent (unreliable) power doesn’t work now and it never will. Stop these things now.

    • Dennis Sandberg

      It was time to give it up when it was reported that it took 70 renewable workers to produce the same amount of energy as a single coal worker.

      Renewables are perceived by government officials as the ultimate job creation scheme, at taxpayer, and bill payers expense.

      A bit like forcing children to stay at school until they are 18. All well and good until one realised that it reduced unemployment numbers.

      The penny drops.

      • suppose we could use picks and shovels instead of drag-line’s in coal mines to remove overburden and create lots of jobs…oops that would be like going back to the 1400’s….wait…that’s what we’re doing with windmill. Get rid of that junk renewable farce and MAGA,

  11. There is definitely a palpable heaviness of tread and halfheartedness amongst the once do or die faithful these days. Trump, with a few words, a grin and the playful 5mm spread between thumb and forefinger statement on sea level rise, showed two things in one: with the US gov out, a global manic kumbayah klatch, even with continents full of “progressive” neomarksbrothers on board, the bulk of billionaires in the US itself marching at the head of the parade and trillions spent, is toast. Oh the other countries will do this and mayors and governors will do that but like Fukushima, the meme has been leveled by a one man tsunami. They should have taken up a collection for “The Wall” and said nice things. Na that wouldnt have bought this guy out.

    • “but like Fukushima, the meme has been leveled by a one man tsunami.”

      Yes, you have to love Trump!

      It’s like all these Western politicians and elites have been walking around in a daze for decades, and then a leader like Trump comes along and has a new, successful way of doing things, and slowly other politicians start to wake up and snap out of their dreamworld and start climbing on the bandwagon. And that’s the way it should be.

  12. I often wondered how the engineers would deal with the inevitably huge stresses produced in the bearings of these gigantic rotating structures due to the pitch and roll associated with a floating platform, however stable it may appear. And then there is also the inevitable problem of fatigue fractures to consider. The mind boggles when you consider the combination of strong winds and a nasty sea.

    It seems that they haven’t quite got it right so far; but beefing things up may be a bit expensive.

  13. Perhaps they have installed a Southern Hemisphere turbine and it is turning in the wrong direction.

  14. > The price tag to remove the ¥15.2 billion ($134,481,133) turbine, which has an output capacity of 7,000 kilowatts, is expected to be around 10 percent of the building cost.

    $13m? I have a better idea/price. In fact I bet there is a Hollywood studio willing to pay to blow it up.

  15. Don’t tell Xcel energy. They’ll buy it, plant it Minnesota and make Colorado pay for it.

  16. It’s a good thing we have at least a few centuries of fossil fuels remaining because it may take that long to come up with viable substitutes if we keep denying nuclear. Anyone that believes people are willing to go without energy/electricity is a fool.

  17. 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.

  18. So they tried for vastly larger turbine size to get economy of scale but the stress is too much, and everything just breaks up. So there are real limits to turbine scalability.

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