A 2019 resolution: Honesty in energy policy

Virginia wind project highlights the need in climate, sustainability and renewable energy arenas

Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek

In this season of New Year resolutions, we should insist that governors, legislators, regulators, activists and their corporate allies resolve to be more honest, especially on climate and renewable energy issues.

Here in Virginia where we live, Governor Ralph Northam and the Republican controlled legislature have approved Dominion Energy plans to install two Washington Monument-high wind turbines off the Norfolk coast. They claim the “demonstration project” will help advance their commitment to “fighting climate change.” After the two turbines run awhile, they could be joined by hundreds more.

State regulators blasted the decision, but political fiat, expediency and doubletalk forced them to approve the project. The sorry saga carries important lessons for energy consumers across the USA and world.

There was no competitive bidding for this offshore wind project, which carries a likely under-estimated cost of $300 million. Virginians will pay 25 times the U.S. market price for the turbines – and then pay 78¢/kilowatt-hour for their intermittent electricity. That’s 26 times the 3¢ per kWh wholesale price for coal, gas, hydroelectric or nuclear electricity in Virginia; almost nine times the household price.

As with all wind turbine projects – unless they’re backed up by fossil fuel power plants – this boondoggle will ensure that customers get electricity when it’s available, instead of when they need it; that lights, heat, air conditioning, computers and televisions go off and on many times every day.

The eventual forest of turbines will impact surface and submarine ship traffic, while constant vibration noises from the towers will impair marine mammals’ sonar navigation systems.

But when green preening or climate virtue-signaling is the objective, no politicians are going to be shackled by inconvenient energy, environmental or economic realities or ethics – like these:

Wind power is only pseudo-renewable. The wind may be free. But nothing of what’s required to harness breezes to power civilization is free, renewable, climate-friendly, eco-friendly or sustainable.

Consumers demand and require reliable, affordable electricity 24/7/365. Weather dependent, intermittent, unreliable wind power requires 100% backup by coal or gas power plants that must run all the time on “spinning reserve,” ready to step in every time the wind dies down. That means extra costs, materials and fuels for the backup units – on top of the costs, materials and fuels to make and install the turbines.

Each of these monster wind turbines needs about 800 pounds of neodymium, 130 pounds of dysprosium, other rare earth elements, and tons of iron, copper, concrete, petroleum composites and other metals and materials. Replacing coal or gas backup units with huge rechargeable battery arrays requires lanthanum, rare earth alloys, lithium, nickel, cadmium and assorted other metals – in massive quantities.

Many of those metals come primarily from China, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other places where child labor is common, adults earn a few dollars a day, and health, safety and environmental rules are all but nonexistent. They’re the renewable energy equivalent of “blood diamonds” and slave labor.

Some 300 of the world’s biggest clothing brands banned Uzbek cotton exports for five years, because the country’s government forced teachers, doctors and other people to pick cotton each year. Shouldn’t ethical greenies and government officials apply “responsibly sourced” standards to wind turbines?

Fossil fuels are required to extract and process all these materials, and manufacture and transport the wind turbine components. That means pollution and carbon dioxide emissions, in someone else’s backyard.

In another clever ruse, industrial wind promoters claim turbines generate electricity about a third of the time: a 33% “nameplate capacity factor.” The actual output is closer to 20-30% or even lower, depending on locations. And wind power often fails when electricity is most urgently required: during the hottest and coldest days or weeks of the year, when winds are too weak to turn turbine blades.

During the July 2006 California heat wave, turbines generated only 5% of nameplate capacity. In Texas, wind capacity factors are generally between 9% and 12% (or even down to 4% or zero) during torrid summer months. Wind generation was virtually non-existent in the Pacific Northwest in January 2009. Amid a 2012 heat wave, turbines generated a minuscule 4 megawatts when Northern Illinois electricity demand averaged 22,000 MW! Similar realities prevail all across the USA and world.

The problem worsens as turbines age. A British study found that onshore wind electricity output declines by 16% per decade of operation. It’s worse offshore, because of storms and salt spray.

Offshore wind electricity is extremely expensive. The first U.S. offshore wind farm went online off Rhode Island in 2017 – at $150,000 per household powered. The newest U.S. nuclear reactor cost $4.7 billion but powers 4.5 million homes – at $1,040 per household. That’s a $149,000 per family difference.

RI offshore wind electricity costs 24.4¢/kWh today. Under its contractual price escalator of 3.5% a year, in 20 years RI consumers will be paying almost 50 cents per kWh.

Decommissioning (removing) wind turbines is enormously difficult and hugely expensive. Natural gas plants have 30-40 year lifetimes; nuclear plants can operate for 60 years or more. Wind turbines last 15-20 years, and often far less for offshore leviathans. Off Virginia, salt corrosion is compounded by 50-80 foot storm waves and category 1-3 hurricanes.

Maintenance and removal require huge derrick barges and can be done only during near-perfect weather, with minimal wave height. Actual removal costs depend on the size and type of project, distance from shore, whether monopiles and electrical cables must be fully removed, and whether the seabed must be returned to its original condition. (Should wind turbines get a free pass on these requirements?)

Virginia’s turbines will be 27 miles from the coast. The cost of removing any industrial-scale “wind farm” could run into the billions, and could double the cost of this wind power.

Oil, mining, logging, construction and other projects are typically required to post sizable bonds, before they are permitted to operate (and must endure costly multi-year permit and lawsuit processes). Wind turbine projects are generally exempt. That means billion-dollar decommissioning costs could bring corporate insolvency – and state taxpayers and ratepayers will get stuck with the bills.

Demolition has begun off Denmark for one of Europe’s earliest offshore wind projects. Blades, nacelles and towers must be dismantled and individually removed by big mobile cranes on enormous barges. The concrete foundations must be dismantled on-site by hydraulic demolition shears, then hauled ashore.

Rotor blades are fiberglass, carbon fibers and petroleum resins; burning them releases dust and toxic gases, and so is prohibited. Recycling is also difficult. Imagine hauling 245-foot blades from the monster offshore turbines to landfills. No wonder one study estimates that it will cost $565,000 per megawatt to decommission Europe’s offshore turbines – or about $3.4 million for each new generation 6-MW turbine.

From an economic, environmental or energy perspective, wind energy is simply unsustainable. And it’s all being justified by climate change hype, hysteria, headlines and computer models.

We’re supposed to believe that humans can control Earth’s temperature, climate and weather by controlling the 0.042% of the atmosphere that is carbon dioxide and methane. That major fluctuations in the sun’s energy output, constantly mixing and changing oceanic and atmospheric fluids, and other powerful natural forces are irrelevant. That emissions from thousands of new coal- and gas-fired power plants in Asia and Africa should just be ignored. That pseudo-renewable energy will save the planet.

Governor Northam and legislators who support this nonsense should be punished for energy and climate deceit – or at least forced to run their homes and offices in perpetuity on intermittent, ultra-expensive electricity from wind turbines … at their own personal expense, and not on the taxpayers’ dime.

Roger Bezdek is an internationally recognized energy analyst and president of Management Information Services, Inc. Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. Both have written numerous studies and articles on energy and climate change.

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80 thoughts on “A 2019 resolution: Honesty in energy policy

  1. What is the current claim for “Territorial” waters for the United States? During ‘Prohibition’ it was 12 miles.

    • Territorial waters are 12 nautical miles, with some complicated rules on inlets, islands, land reclamation etc.

      The exclusive economic zone extends 200 nautical miles and that is relevant for offshore wind power.

      There are also complicated rules for where the zones for one nation overlap those of another.

      • Those are Federal limits.
        Virginia is in charge of the first three nautical miles; after that, it belongs to the Federal Government.

        Within three miles, those turbines will look massive and be physically felt.

        Their ecological research should include effects to people, fish, crustaceans, ocean mammals and molluscs.

  2. “Replacing coal or gas backup units with huge rechargeable battery arrays requires lanthanum, rare earth alloys, lithium, nickel, cadmium and assorted other metals – in massive quantities.”
    I’ve got news, people : batteries STORE energy , they do not GENERATE energy. And they can’t store much energy at that. Wind turbines can run at low output rates for a long while , requiring supplemental power for a whole lot longer period of time than batteries can supply power. And if they are needed and become depleted, what is going to recharge those batteries ?

  3. The best way to deal with this is to just recover the CO2 out of the combusted coal exhaust, and leave the coal fired power plants running. They would be putting into the atmosphere near zero CO2 emissions.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQRQ7S92_lo
    Instead of spending all this money on wind and solar, sell the CO2 produced products. Its good for the economy and maybe even good for the environment.

    • already capturing, bottling, and selling it…

      The whole thing is a hoot….they have to capture their CO2 emissions….get credit for capturing it, etc
      …then turn around and sell it to businesses that release it right back into the atmosphere

    • Capturing a high proportion of the CO2 from a coal plant is incredibly expensive. The Sidel system makes wind power look simple and affordable.

      Also why? More CO2 in the air is beneficial, at least for another order of magnitude.

  4. My engineering professor back in the ‘80s said an engineer was someone who could do with one dollar what any damn fool could do with five.
    I guess this needs to be revised and updated to “150” for these politically foolish times…

  5. RE: “A 2019 resolution: Honesty in energy policy”

    ‘Hope springs eternal in the breast of man…’
    May this resolution become reality.

    • “Honesty is the best policy”
      Yet, it’s not politically correct,
      It differs from progressive democracy;
      So desperate to connect.

      A lie repeated many times
      Could be construed as truth
      By several generations
      of indoctrinated youth.

      Let’s hope that all our children
      Learn the difference between
      The pessimistic things they’ve heard
      And what they’ve really seen.

  6. Demolition has begun off Denmark for one of Europe’s earliest offshore wind projects. Blades, nacelles and towers must be dismantled and individually removed by big mobile cranes on enormous barges. The concrete foundations must be dismantled on-site by hydraulic demolition shears, then hauled ashore.

    You appear to be talking about the Vindeby windfarm, built in 1991 by DONG Energy. It consisted of 11 turbines set in water between 2 and 5 meters deep. Acdcording to this article the demolition has been completed.

    That article also says the windfarm was a “great success”:

    The world’s first offshore wind farm was a great success, but after more than 25 years of operation the Vindeby wind turbines were worn down, and DONG Energy decided to decommission the wind farm. In March 2017, contractors began dismantling of the 11 wind turbines.

    It would be useful to dig up the actual generation and cost history of Vindeby. Oh wait, somebody already did:

    1991 Vindeby Offshore Wind Farm – Denmark

    Years of Operation: 1991-2016 (25)

    Capital Cost: 75M Kroner = $13M (1991USD) = $23M (2017USD)

    Number of Turbines: 11 @ 450 kW

    Lifetime Generation: 243 GWh

    Nameplate Capacity: 4.9 MW

    Average Power Output: 1.1 MW

    Cost/Nampepate Capacity: $2.65/Watt (1991USD), $4.7/Watt (2017USD)

    Lifetime Capacity Factor: 22%

    Cost/Effective Output: $12/Watt (1991USD), $21/Watt (2017USD)

    Levelized Capital Cost: $53/MWh (1991USD), $95/MWh (2017USD)

    Levelized VOM Cost: $65/MWh (Estimated using $130/kw-hr industry figures for 2015)

    Lower Bound of LCOE: $160/MWh (2017USD)

    • Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

      Sorry, I’m not very good at deciphering these things, but are taxpayer subsidies included in those numbers?

      And isn’t installing turbines in water between 2M (~6ft.) to 5M (~15ft.) an entirely different proposition to installing these things in water of 30M – 40M deep?

      Genuine questions.

      • HotScot:

        (1) I don’t know if subsidies were factored in to those numbers. They were taken from an earlier WUWT Guest essay by T. A. “Ike” Kiefer, CAPT, USN (ret.).

        (2) Yes, I would assume that both installation and decommissioning costs increase with water depth.

        What I don’t know is to what extent Vindeby windfarm output declined over its lifetime due to turbine failures deemed not worth repairing. That might well account for the lifetime capacity factor (22%) being so much lower than the EIA assumption. That was certainly the case with the Kamaoa windfarm at South Point on Hawaii.

        • WHAT IS GRID-CONNECTED WIND POWER REALLY WORTH?

          Wind power is intermittent and non-dispatchable and therefore should be valued much lower than the reliable, dispatchable power typically available from conventional electric power sources such as fossil fuels, hydro and nuclear.

          In practice, one should assume the need for almost 100% conventional backup for wind power (in the absence of a hypothetical grid-scale “super-battery”, which does not exist in practical reality). When wind dies, typically on very hot or very cold days, the amount of wind power generated approaches zero.

          Capacity Factor equals {total actual power output)/(total rated capacity assuming 100% utilization). The Capacity Factor of wind power in Germany equals about 28%*. However, Capacity Factor is not a true measure of actual usefulness of grid-connected wind power. The following paragraph explains why:

          Current government regulations typically force wind power into the grid ahead of conventional power, and pay the wind power producer equal of greater sums for wind power versus conventional power, which artificially makes wind power appear more economic. This practice typically requires spinning backup of conventional power to be instantly available, since wind power fluctuates wildly, reportedly at the cube of the wind speed. The cost of this spinning backup is typically not deducted from the price paid to the wind power producer.

          The true factor that reflects the intermittency of wind power Is the Substitution Capacity*, which is about 5% in Germany – a large grid with a large wind power component. Substitution Capacity is the amount of dispatchable (conventional) power you can permanently retire when you add more wind power to the grid. In Germany they have to add ~20 units of wind power to replace 1 unit of dispatchable power. This is extremely uneconomic.

          I SUGGEST THAT THE SUBSTITUTION CAPACITY OF ~5% IS A REASONABLE FIRST APPROXIMATION FOR WHAT WIND POWER IS REALLY WORTH – that is 1/20th of the value of reliable, dispatchable power from conventional sources. Anything above that 5% requires spinning conventional backup, which makes the remaining wind power redundant and essentially worthless.

          This is a before-coffee first-approximation of the subject. Improvements are welcomed, provided they are well-researched and logical.

          Regards, Allan

          References:

          1. “E.On Netz Wind Report 2005” at
          http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/eonwindreport2005.pdf

          2. DEBATE ON THE KYOTO ACCORD
          PEGG, reprinted in edited form at their request by several other professional journals, THE GLOBE AND MAIL and LA PRESSE in translation, by Baliunas, Patterson and MacRae.
          http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/KyotoAPEGA2002REV1.pdf

          • Update, from memory:

            A recent (2018) report by the German National Audit group reported that Germany’s wind power program wa a huge disaster, wasting about $800 billion. My interpretation of their conclusion wa that Substitution Capacity was even lower than the ~5% reported by E.On Netz in their 2005 report, and close to 1%. That means they have to install 100 units of wind power capacity to get 1 reliable (dispatchable) unit of power for the grid. This is incredibly uneconomic.

    • Addendum to above. The EIA Levelized Cost of Energy reference for 2017 lists the following costs in 2011 dollars for new generation sources entering service in 2017 — see page 4. I’ve added the adjusted costs in 2017 dollars to compare above, reflecting 8.97% in total inflation.

      Type LCOE-2011 ( LCOE-2017)
      Advanced Coal: $123.0 ($134.03)
      Advanced CCGT: $65.60 ($71.49)
      Advanced Nuclear: $108.40 ($118.13)
      Onshore Wind: $86.6 ($94.37)
      Offshore Wind: $221.50 ($241.37)
      Solar PV: $144.30 ($157.25)

      The EIA method assumes the same 30-year capital recovery period for wind as they do for coal, which biases the wind calculation lower. It also assumes a capacity factor of 34% and 37% for onshore and offshore wind respectively. In the case of Vindeby, production lifetime was 25 years instead of 30 and the lifetime capacity factor was 22% instead of the assumed 37%.

  7. The problem is that public officials escape accountability for even the most egregious negligence.

    Exhibit ‘A’ is the Love Canal fiasco. The government seized a toxic waste site from Hooker Chemical, punctured the clay cap to install sewer lines and foundations, built two schools and allowed residential construction. All this in spite of the company’s loud protestations that it was a toxic waste site and should not be built on.

    Question: How many public officials suffered any penalty, criminal or civil? Answer: none.

    I am heartened to note that our good friend Al Gore gets a mention here.

    All kinds of people need to face penalties or at least opprobrium for their negligence. Instead, the wrong people get blamed and the guilty go on to sin again, and again, and again, ad infinitum.

    • commieBob – December 24, 2018 at 10:45 am

      Exhibit ‘A’ is the Love Canal fiasco. The government seized a toxic waste site from Hooker Chemical, …..

      NOTE: the government authorized the Love Canal property as an “approved” chemical waste dump site before Hooker ever started using it as such.

      Anyway and actually, ….. it was the local School Board that begged Hooker to sell them the Love Canal property, which they did, but only after the SB signed documents that the property would always be used for athletics activities and WOULD NEVER EVER BE developed.

      Then a Real Estate Developer told the School Board bout how many MILLION$ they could make by selling residential lots ……. and the rest is history.

      The SB earned million$ free and clear …… and Hooker had to pay millions for the cleanup.

      • I’m delighted to see that there are at least a few people who know the real story of Love Canal! The papers actually were [deed] restrictions which prevented development other than as a playground. The problems were uncovered when galvanized steel posts used to support swings started to dissolve.

        The caving of Hooker under such circumstances still makes me want to vomit!

          • Of course not, …… it was “politically” necessary that Hooker HAD TO BE FOUND GUILTY simply because ..….. “someone” had to be found negligent and therefore have to pay for the “clean-up” …….

            …… and iffen it was the School Board, then Real Property (school) Taxes would have had to increase substantially …… and the public would become irate and vindictive.

  8. Energy is money.
    Perhaps Mark Twain should have said ‘honesty is the best policy, when there is no money in it’
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

  9. I recall that many decades ago a proposed oil platform of some sort off the US East Coast, maybe North Carolina, had objections related to interference with bird migration. Tired migrating birds do land on these, a little difficult on a turbine. Objections were about confusion from excessive illumination. Somewhere I brought up the havoc caused there during WWII, now receded into environmental darkness, apparently along with concerns about such birds.

  10. If you want to generate power off shore, nuclear powered mini-subs sending electricity back to shore would be better and just in case one got out of control, it could be scuttled, or even designed to be safely decommissioned, deep off the edge of the continental shelf. Out of sight, out of mind …

    With economies of scale, you could put a commercial version of the A1B reactor in a remote controlled $500M min-sub power plant with a 50 year lifetime with one refueling @ $200M and that can send as much as 500 MW to the shore as 500A of +/- 500KV DC. Try doing that with a windmill.

    • But, but, but, ….. co2isnotevil

      Dominion wields influence with political contributions, charitable donations

      Through its political action committee, the company has donated $1.6 million to statewide and legislative candidates since the start of 2013, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

      But political contributions aren’t the only way Dominion wins friends and allies. The Dominion Foundation gives away about $15 million per year — in donations ranging from $1,000 to $250,000 — to a huge array of charitable causes in the states where Dominion operates. Many of the biggest gifts are made here in Richmond, where the company is headquartered.

      “No single company even comes close to Dominion in terms of its wide-ranging influence and impact on Virginia politics and government,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia professor and political analyst.

      Read more here

    • For that matter, you could take anything offshore. Besides an offshore nuclear power plant, how about an off-shore coal plant? Or an offshore gas generation plant?

  11. I would think, in some regards, that blasting the base of an offshore turbine and letting it topple over into the ocean might be better for the environment than trying to dismantle and recycle it. The toppled tower and base would make a nice artificial reef. In fact, I would think that after twenty-five years the foundation might already be a diverse habitat, that would be destroyed when the ocean bed is ‘restored’

      • Alan Watt, Climate Denialist level 7.
        Regarding sunken100 meter turbines Danish wind and such, here’s an attempt to straighten out a deluded journalist some years ago:

        From the desk of Harvey H. Homitz. November 11th. 2014

        Justin Gillis Esq.
        c/o. The Editor:
        New York Times,
        620, 8th. Ave.,New York , NY10018

        Re:  “By Degrees” :  Danish Wind Not Without Woes.
        Science Times, Tuesday, November 11th. 2014

        Dear Mr. Gillis,

         Congratulations! You are definitely the lead trumpeter for the NYT Green Warming Marching Band if you dig my tune.   Nothing wrong with blowing a good trumpet even if it is for the NYT!   But be careful. Remember when Joshua blew his at Jericho….the walls came tumbling down.   
        We don’t want that happening in New York! Right?

        Let’s not mince words!   I’ve been following  your ‘BY DEGREES’ piece on Global Warming, or what they now call Climate Change, for a while.  That terminological reconfiguration was a smart move, nothing wrong with that!  Better be safe than sorry I always say, especially for you journalists when you get into the prognostication business.  

        So! We’ve got the outcome thing covered no matter which way the thermometer goes,  but all this headlong charge into Wind and Solar has been bothering me for a while   and I’m relieved that finally you got it ..  Justin Time eh!  Oops ! I forgot; Justin Gillis.

        Well done! You hit the Danes on the Jutland with that one!    What are those 5.6 million Danes going to do when the wind stops blowing and the Norwegians won’t give back the electricity they owe from pumping up their hydro electric dams on windy days?   More to the point what are they going to do when 45 million Brits., who shut down their Nukes and dirty old coal plants, are begging for a few terra-watts  to save them from freezing in the dark? Eh?

        Well I don’t mind sharing this one with you;  the Brits will do OK without Danish Wind; they’ve got Lord Browne Fracker!  You know, the chap who changed British Petroleum to Beyond Petroleum, quit BP,  jumped out the closet and started fracking all over North England.  

        Now you seem to be a bright sort of fellow, very literate if not so numerate.  After all, apart from a few recent exceptions, there’s not many Dodos on the NYT payroll, so you may have guessed by now that I’m packed in the sardine section of an Airbus, at Mach .75, 35k ft. and reading your piece in the Times. Incidentally, when you say “BY DEGREES”, are we talking Fahrenheit, Unknown, Celsius or Kelvin?    Perhaps you should put that little circle followed by F, U, C or K, after ‘degrees’ in case there are any real scientists in your readership trying to understand exactly what the f*** you’re on   about.

        Now articles like yours  tend to make one think.   So it occurred to me as I sipped an inferior wine while nibbling fruits and nuts,  (appropriately since I was departing California which harbours  large numbers of both),  how lucky I was to be propelled  by kerosene and not Danish wind.  Further, with the aid of a slide-rule, (which need not be switched off in flight),  I calculated that it would require 70,000 horses or 350,000 galley slaves, at max exertion to get this Airbus off the ground.   WOW!   Suddenly the sardine section seemed less crowded!
         
        Well, not to worry, you’re on the right track now, and being an expert myself in these matters, I don’t mind helping you avoid the obvious pitfalls while sweeping on with the Grand Fallacy!

        As I see it our biggest problem post election is how to get this Republican Congress to repeal the Laws of Thermodynamics and replace them with kinder ‘fairer’ Democratic ones.   But not to worry!   With my brains and your dexterity with the pen…mightier than the sword they say!….we’ll manage.

        Let me know when we can start, as luck would have it I’m available,

        Yours from the irredeemable far right,

        Harvey H. Homitz 

        Ambassador at large for SPIGGOTS*
        and
        Purveyor of Sensible Science to the Innumerate.

        * Society for the Prevention of Incestuous Government Grants on Tortured Science.

    • I think the blades would have to be removed because they would float. The nacelle should probably be recycled, both because of value and potential pollution.

      I am inclined to agree that the base should be left and possibly the tower felled into the sea.

  12. We might as well demand honest money while we are at it. Climate change and fiat money (with related near-infinite debt) go hand in glove to advance government. Funding of “climate change” research and projects is made possible only by governments creating money out of thin air. We would not be able to write the checks any other way, which just proves the point.

  13. A disturbing trend has appeared which should be investigated.

    The trend is civil engineering projects which promote environmental advantages such as removal of nitrous pollutants from air and other environmental attributes, but which may be creating buildings which are structurally unsafe and dangerous.

    Recall the disaster at the International University Florida on March 15 this year (2018) where a pedestrian road bridge at a University collapsed during construction, killing 6 and injuring a further 9.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_International_University_pedestrian_bridge_collapse

    This “Sweeetwater” pedestrian bridge project had been heavily promoted for its environmental credentials, including the use of titanium dioxide containing concrete that “self-cleaned” nitrous oxides out of the nearby air.

    It is not clear yet from the inquiry if this non-standard “self-cleaning” concrete was in any way a factor in the collapse.

    Now today there is a news article about a newly-built high-rise residential block in Sydney, Australia (The Opal tower, Olympic Park), which has been evacuated after a loud cracking sound was heard on its tenth floor:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-46671811

    It turns out that this building was made by a company called ECOVE, which, again, promotes as its defining attribute an emphasis on environmental friendliness in materials and methods. Here is the website if Ecove:

    https://www.sopba.com.au/ecove

    Of course, one sparrow does not a summer make. Maybe not even two. But I wonder if there is a problem here. Some construction companies are adopting an extreme green brand identity, and somewhere in the process, safety is being lost.

    Finally, civil engineering research has shown that the addition of TiO2 to concrete for self-cleaning effect, weakens its mechanical properties.

  14. RI offshore wind electricity costs 24.4¢/kWh today. Under its contractual price escalator of 3.5% a year, in 20 years RI consumers will be paying almost 50 cents per kWh.

    Right now there are only five turbines in a demonstration project that’s supplying power to Block Island which is located 14 miles off the southern coast of mainland RI. 24.4 cents per kWh is cheaper than what they were paying for the diesel-fueled power generation previously (over half a dollar per kWh, IIRC). Excess power is sent back to the mainland by cable so that’s a burden on rate payers. Frankly, given the harsh marine environment, I don’t expect these turbines or any of the others in planning to last twenty years. There is beginning to be some push back by local squid fishermen who say the turbines will harm their industry irreparably. The federal legislative delegation is taking notice. Should be interesting for numbskull Senator Whitehouse who is a big proponent of costly wind power.

  15. So, I’m having trouble with the terminology of energy installation projects, and I’m wondering if someone can help. For instance, apparently in Iowa there has been $10 B invested in “wind power projects and manufacturing facilities”, with a capacity (in Feb 2016) of 6,974 MW (employing 6,000-7,000 in the state). (I should add that “In addition to federal programs, the state of Iowa encourages development of renewable electricity sources through a 1 cent per kilowatt hour tax credit.[8] Also, generation equipment and facilities receive property tax breaks, and generation equipment is exempt from sales tax”) Iowas gets over 36% of its in-state electricity from wind, and sells excess to other states.)

    On the other hand, ” the estimated costs of building new coal plants
    have reached $3,500 per kW, without financing costs, and are still expected to increase
    further. This would mean a cost of well over $2 billion for a new 600 MW coal plant when
    financing costs are included.” http://schlissel-technical.com/docs/reports_35.pdf

    According to the report, the price of building a coal-fired power plant have soared.

    On the face of it, it appears to me that the cost of a coal plant is $3,333,333/MW, while for wind projects and manufacturing facilities, the cost is about $1,433,897/MW (in Iowa – I don’t know if this includes financing).

    It seems like I must be missing something here. I know these are just single estimates, and it’s not clear what all is included in the estimates, but perhaps someone can tell me why building coal plants is, in all instances, cheaper than using wind.

    (I’m aware that wind is not ever at maximum capacity, of course – wind capacity factor in Iowas is about 33% – but neither is it entirely intermittent if you have enough turbines, and I know there is a cost there…but that’s not what I’m asking about)

    It seems to me that it’s quite a complex accounting process to factor in all the costs of each type of energy.

    …Huh, one of the authors’ links says that coal-fired electricity has an energy return on investment of 12-24, while wind is 18-20. Nuclear is 5-15. Solar 6-12.

    “Published studies on typical modern
    wind turbines (capacities of 0.5 to 4.5 MW) show the
    EPT [energy payback time] ranges from as little as three-and-a-half months to
    just over ten months. A wind turbine has an operational
    lifetime of 20–25 years, which means it will take just one
    to four per cent of its lifetime to repay the energy
    invested in it. Over its lifetime, a modern wind turbine
    would be expected to return at least 20 times the energy
    invested in it as renewable electricity.”

    It also says that wind turbines require about 88 pounds neodymium/MW, which makes me wonder about the 800 pounds he quotes for each turbine.

    The 20-30% capacity factor the authors quote is for the UK – if he’s looking at the same data I am, it’s was over 26% in 2011 and 2012, and 21.7 in 2010. The efficiency is rising in general, as I understand it.

    ……………………………………….

    “Virginians will pay 25 times the U.S. market price for the turbines”

    Why? That seems crazy! Couldn’t find where he got that info. I do agree that Virginia’s offshore project seems pretty foolish, on the face of it, but it’s just a pilot study, which may be why they couldn’t find more than one bidder (there was a bidding process, apparently) – there are a lot of unknowns, and the small scale makes it more expensive per turbine. The RI project appears to be a demonstration, too.

    I’d like to see figures that take into account costs/benefits for a real offshore project over the long-term compared with other power sources.

    PLEASE NOTE: I’m not arguing for or against wind vs. other electrical generation, I’m just trying to inform myself, and in the process comparing the authors’ info with other info, often in the links they provided.

    • Kristi, as a veteran of the power production industry I can tell you that no matter how cheap you can put up a wind farm, it only produces when the wind blows.
      i can also connect you with real people who have lost their jobs to Obama’s war on coal-fired power plants- at the very plant where I worked from 1977-1983 before taking a job as a public university facility operator.
      Dynegy’s Wood River power station (460 MW) was 10 years from obsolescence when it was retired to appease the greens and raise the price I pay for wind power from upstate IL, plus increase the brownouts and momentary power outages on the co-op that supplies me, due to the loss of 460 MW of flexible pulverized coal generation nearby.
      Hoping you don’t find this response “weird”, ma’m.

    • kristi writes: —-> “It also says that wind turbines require about 88 pounds neodymium/MW, which makes me wonder about the 800 pounds he quotes for each turbine.”

      Please provide a link where you claim to have read this.

      ====

      According to the Bulletin of Atomic Sciences:

      Estimates of the exact amount of rare earth minerals in wind turbines vary, but in any case the numbers are staggering. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Sciences, a 2 megawatt (MW) wind turbine contains about 800 pounds of neodymium and 130 pounds of dysprosium. The MIT study cited above estimates that a 2 MW wind turbine contains about 752 pounds of rare earth minerals. https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/wind/big-winds-dirty-little-secret-rare-earth-minerals/

      =====

      The Virginia offshore project is to include two 6 MW turbines. That would be about 2400 pounds of neodymium for each turbine. So the authors may have underestimated by a factor of 3, but your claim is an underestimate by a factor of greater than 13. You have a sharp eye on the numbers but yours is off by 1300%.

    • kristi,

      Glad to see you back again. I’m sure you would like to know how much nuclear waste is produced mining the rare earth minerals for the wind turbines so I looked it up just for you!

      Continued from the Bulletin of Atomic Sciences:

      To quantify this in terms of environmental damages, consider that mining one ton of rare earth minerals produces about one ton of radioactive waste, according to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. In 2012, the U.S. added a record 13,131 MW of wind generating capacity. That means that between 4.9 million pounds (using MIT’s estimate) and 6.1 million pounds (using the Bulletin of Atomic Science’s estimate) of rare earths were used in wind turbines installed in 2012. It also means that between 4.9 million and 6.1 million pounds of radioactive waste were created to make these wind turbines. https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/wind/big-winds-dirty-little-secret-rare-earth-minerals/

      • Rare earth minerals are used in far more applications than just wind turbines. A more meaningful statistic would be what proportion of the whole of the radioactive waste is from the turbines, weighted for lifetime use. And wouldn’t the Nd in the turbines be recyclable?

    • kristi,

      I’m just trying to help you inform yourself on some aspects of wind generation that you are interested in. Here’s a little more on perspective from the same link as above:

      For perspective, America’s nuclear industry produces between 4.4 million and 5 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel each year. That means the U.S. wind industry may well have created more radioactive waste last year than our entire nuclear industry produced in spent fuel. In this sense, the nuclear industry seems to be doing more with less: nuclear energy comprised about one-fifth of America’s electrical generation in 2012, while wind accounted for just 3.5 percent of all electricity generated in the United States.

      I hope this helps.

      • “Radioactive waste” is a broad term. Different waste has to be treated differently.

        What about the waste from the mining of the nuclear fuel? And how often does the fuel have to be replaced? I’ve no idea.

        I just read that other rare earth metals besides Nd are used in the turbines. Then there’s the fact that there is a wide variety of sizes. There are 8.8 MW turbines deployed, and a 12 MW one proposed (nameplate capacity, of course). Offshore use. There’s a floating type of turbine – I didn’t know that.

        Some areas of the world rarely are wind-free.

        I’ll be interested to see how the development of wave-produced energy technology proceeds. But what’s most important for renewable energy to become a practical large-scale alternative (rather than adjunct) to fossil fuel is economical grid-capacity energy storage. That will come, too. There’s a lot of interesting opportunities for technological advances in the renewable industry, and a tremendous potential market for them if they are economically competitive with fossil fuels. It’s an interesting time.

        Thanks for providing these different perspectives on the issue.

    • To generate 750 MegWatt “at the fence” 24×365 , you need one modest-sized coal plant, or a single triple combined cycle plant (250 MW GT, 250 MW GT, both feeding one 250 MW steam plant on their waste heat.
      To generate 750 MW by wind at 25% efficiency factor, you need 4x 750 MW of wind turbines distributed over a wide enough area to provide 3000 MW of wind energy.
      Plus that same 750 MW plant as available backup.
      PLUS the distribution network of towers and transformers and roads and high voltage power wires to connect 3000 MW of wind turbines to the grid and control them.
      PLUS the ability to use (or bleed off as waste heat) the EXTRA 3000 MW – 750 MW = 2250 MW whenever the wind is actually higher than average and EVERY windmill is generating at 100% nameplate rating even when you don’t want that power! But, a few hours later, be ready (as TX did several times) to restart your backup fossil plant the minute the storms pass by and you have dead calm air for two days.

      When being sold a windmill rated at 1 MW to provide 1MW of delivered power, you’re not just buying 1 MW of generator. You’re buying 4 MW of windmills and controls and wires and towers and roads and a 1MW in a backup fossil plant someplace else.

      • RACookPE1978

        You don’t seem to be accounting for the capacity factor of coal-fired plants.

        Offshore turbines had capacity factors of 33% way back in 2012; I imagine they are higher now.

        There’s the land-use issue, but turbines can be used on land that’s used for other things. The investment in building coal plants vs. turbines, as well as infrastructure, fuel and other costs (including those to human health), have to be considered. It’s not an easy question, especially since new technologies are bound to be developed.

  16. “Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek”

    A well crafted sense-of-proportion injector. Unfortunately it seems only mass-riots work against the perverse corrupt jerks in govt, at this point, as democracy as totally failed.

  17. In addition to the scandalous wasteful use of neodymium, dysprosium, rare earth elements, tons of iron, copper, concrete, and petroleum composites coming from China, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other places where child labour and adult slave labour is common, where health, safety and environmental rules are quite functionally nonexistent, these monstrous wind-turbines kill millions of bats and birds. Those advocating wind power are promoting death, misery and torture for both people and animals, in their blind pursuit of self-delusional climate goals.

    • CG, “Renewable energy” is what liberal politicians refer to when they discuss inactive voters and possible future campaign support. Other than that they just invoke the standard PC template when questioned on the subject.

  18. Why is the offshore wind farm being dismantled?
    End of usable lifetime?
    How long have they been there?
    Did they pay for themselves?

  19. Honesty in energy policy requires a reality check.
    Photovoltaics technology has essentially plateaued, awaiting a quantum breakthrough.
    Energy storage technology will not in the foreseeable future reach an order of magnitude of energy density above the lead-acid cell.
    Nuclear is many orders of magnitude more energy-dense than solar or wind, and the lifespan of equipment is much longer.
    Both present similarly formidable waste scenarios.
    Pick the one least likely to succeed, once the politics and media influence play in.

  20. Note this article from windpower engineering:

    https://www.windpowerengineering.com/business-news-projects/virginia-emerging-as-the-souths-offshore-wind-giant/\

    The 300 M cost is not mentioned. Why soil the sheets (big time) with a little reality. The rate payers in VA can soil theirs instead, don’t you know.

    Brought to you from the mind of Terry McAuliffe, the previous Va governor.

    Two 6mW max output units for 300M initial startup costs (turn key). To be paid for by existing rate payers, without consent or a vote. In 2009, VA had 2.7 M households. If they are all to be assigned to pay for these two turbines, each contributor needs to come up with $111.

    Two freight locomotives at 3M each output as much power, and 24×7 at that.

    To get to the final goal of 2 Gigawatts as an offshore compliment of green energy-

    https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/wind/virginia-approves-an-offshore-wind-project/

    they need 333,000 of these units. Don’t ask your head to wrap around what amount of cash the Dominion rate payers are going to be presented with.

    The slow mind numbing of this arsenic treatment will be good for you.

  21. Consumers demand and require reliable, affordable electricity 24/7/365…

    Actually what consumers need is reliable, affordable electricity 3600/24/7/365.

  22. What’s truly remarkable is that politicians are wasting this money because enough voters actually want them to. If the politicians were better stewards of the resources under their command, they would tell the voter, “No, we’re not going to do that. It would be a horrific waste. ”

    But incentives are different for government-employed managers than they are for managers hired by profit-seekers.

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