Is the Long Renewables Honeymoon Over?

From The GWPF


Dr John Constable: GWPF Energy Editor

The European renewables industry press, which is usually unequivocally upbeat in its assessments, is currently reporting a broad spectrum of substantial problems in the sector, ranging from bankruptcies and technical problems to tepid policy support and increasing public resistance. In a fundamentally viable energy generation sector such stories could be regarded as minor perturbations, but in one that has been for decades all but completely insulated from risk by subsidy and other non-market support, it suggests deep-seated structuro-physical weakness.

The German wind turbine manufacturer Senvion S.A., formerly trading under the name of RePower, is currently in financial difficulties. This Hamburg-based firm, which has installed over 1,000 wind turbines in the UK alone, applied to commence self-administered insolvency proceedings in mid-April this year, and is at present sustained by a EUR 100m loan agreement with its lenders and main bond holders. Senvion has delayed both its AGM, which was due to take place on the 23 May, and also the publication of its recent financial results. At the time of writing the company had not yet announced a new timetable.

For nearly eight years, from 2007 to 2015, Senvion was owned by the Indian wind turbine manufacturer, Suzlon, and is now the property of the private equity firm, Centerbridge Partners. It is currently rumoured in the industry press that Centerbridge may now be compelled to cut its losses by making a distressed sale to Asian, probably Chinese, companies seeking a cheap way of acquiring a wind power market toehold in Europe. Western companies are thought to be unlikely to have the appetite for such a purchase, and their reluctance is entirely understandable: as Ed Hoskyns shows in a recent note for GWPF using EurObservER data, the annual installation rates for wind and solar have halved in the EU28 since 2010. Senvion may be the first major company to feel the effects of this downturn, and is certainly large enough for its difficulties to have wide ramifications, with two of its suppliers, FrancEole, which makes towers, and the US company TPI Composites, which makes blades, both being hurt by reduced revenues. Indeed, FrancEole was already in a poor way, and is now reported as being on the verge of liquidation.

Projects that were being supplied by Senvion are also affected, with the building of one, Borkum West 2.2, a 200 MW offshore wind farm, being suspended mid-construction since components due from Senvion have not been delivered on schedule. This delay, which has been front-page news in some circles, must be causing considerable headaches for Borkum West’s developer, Trianel GmbH, which is apparently now seeking to establish direct links with Senvion’s suppliers so that they can complete the project.

Elsewhere in the offshore wind universe, two large and relatively new projects are in the midst of what must be costly repairs involving significant downtime. Having received regulatory approval, the Danish mega-developer Orsted is about to start removing and renovating all 324 blades on the 108-turbine, 389 MW, Duddon Sands wind farm in the UK part of the Irish Sea, a year after problems first became apparent. The machines used, the Siemens 3.6–120, have suffered leading edge, a problem that affects perhaps some 500 turbines in Europe (See “Type Failure or Wear and Tear in European Offshore Wind?”), and requiring the application of a remedial covering to each blade.

Less can be read in the public domain about the repairs about to restart at the gigantic, EU-funded Bard Offshore 1, which is owned by Ocean Breeze Energy GmbH & Co. KG. The project, which commissioned in 2013, has eighty 5 MW turbines, with a total capacity of 400 MW. Bard had already suffered a well-known series of cable failures, and it now transpires that both nacelles and rotors have been undergoing replacement for about two years, though Ocean Breeze is, according to industry press reports, apparently declining to confirm how many turbines are affected. The company’s website gives no information in either German or English that I could find.

There would, then, appear to be a great deal of work in servicing offshore wind installations, but this has not been enough to prevent Offshore Marine Management Ltd (OMM), a UK-based offshore wind contractor, entering into voluntary liquidation after several years of losses. Interestingly, OMM, a relatively small company though prominent in the UK, cited the increasingly “competitive nature” of the sector as a factor underlying its failure, and it seems likely that it was unable to survive the efforts of developers determined to reduce both capital and operational and maintenance costs to the bone (and judging from the failures reported, perhaps into the bone itself). With margins pared thin, costly local suppliers may quite simply be forced out of the market, and regardless of their other merits. Related evidence of this phenomenon, which is clearly global, can be found in the fact that the Danish mega-developer Orsted is now grumbling that the Taiwanese government’s insistence of a high level of local content for its projected 900 MW Changua 1 & 2a offshore wind farms will double the capital cost from approximately £1.6m/MW to about £3m/MW.

One wonders whether this underlying reality was discussed at the apparently recent and robust meeting between the Scottish Government and the offshore wind industry, convened because the Scottish metal manufacturing firm BiFab had not been commissioned to make equipment for the 950 MW Moray East wind farm, a wind farm that has one of the much over-hyped Contracts for Difference at £57.50/MWh. The supply deals had instead been awarded to Lamprell, which is based in the UAE. The Scottish Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, used the meeting to express “significant frustration” that local firms had been involved to such a small degree hitherto, in spite of repeated promises. Did Benji Sykes of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, present at the meeting, cite the Taiwanese case and explain to Mr Wheelhouse that something very similar would apply in Scotland, and that if local content was insisted upon, then construction costs would increase substantially and subsidies would also have to be increased to pay for it? Did he explain that there is genuine doubt whether Moray East can be viable at £57.50/MWh, even with low-cost international suppliers, and that local content would certainly not improve that situation? It would seem not. However, he did promise to “work closely” with the Scottish government to “ensure that communities up and down the country reap the economic benefits offshore wind offers”. Mr Wheelhouse has probably heard that before. How much longer will he go on believing it?

So much for the action in the foreground. The backdrop is also sombre. The Crown Estate, which in effect controls offshore wind development in UK territorial waters, has delayed pre-qualification for Round 4 projects until after the summer of 2019, and the German maritime agency, the BSH, has disappointed developers by not assigning new development zones as had been requested. In delay is danger, and the offshore wind industry in general will be deeply concerned at the loss of momentum that may result from these decisions.

Onshore wind is doing no better. The most recent auction for wind contracts in Germany took place in February and was radically undersubscribed, with only 476 MW of a possible 700 MW being awarded [], the underlying causes being, it is reported, less favourable planning consent regulations and less generous price support. Senvion itself is described in some reports as being one of the supply chain casualties, alongside the German tower and foundation maker, Ambau GmbH, which has already filed for bankruptcy.

One wonders why these companies were not better prepared. Reductions in subsidy in Germany were inevitable, and the tightening of planning regulations is long overdue and unsurprising. Indeed, it is remarkable that the German public has tolerated for so long such intense development in close proximity to domestic housing. However, some German states are now considering an exclusion zone of 1 km from the nearest turbine, which is still extremely close for structures in excess of 100m, and now heading, believe it or not, to over 200m in overall height. The German people have been patient, but the mood is clearly changing; indeed, the premier manufacturer and developer Enercon has recently been compelled by court order to suspend construction of its 30 MW Wulfershausen wind farm because it had, apparently, breached the local authorities’ requirement that no dwelling should be within a distance ten times tip height.

This less favourable atmosphere is contributing to a general sense that existing onshore wind farms in Germany will not be repowered in great numbers at the end of their lives. About 15 GW of Germany’s onshore wind is now over fifteen years old and the end of the economic lifetime is in sight. But industry sources quoted in the subscription only press suggest that less than a third of this will actually be repowered, much less than had been expected only a few years back. The reasons given for this sudden change in prospects include declining public acceptance, reflected in tougher planning conditions, and falling subsidies.

Read the full article here.

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May 12, 2019 2:58 am

There is rational private money and there is irrational public money. Renewables depend on the latter.

Reply to  BallBounces
May 12, 2019 3:50 am

This is a case of “faith-based” physics not working as the true believers insist that it must.

Bill Powers
Reply to  BallBounces
May 12, 2019 9:26 am

Allow me a slight modification Ball. There is profit seeking private capital and then there is government extorted taxpayer money which seeks wasteful projects for political gains.

Javert Chip
Reply to  Bill Powers
May 12, 2019 12:01 pm


There’s plenty of stupid “private” money (Tesla, Uber, BlueApron, Lyft, etc, etc,etc). However.individual investors are free to “invest” as they see fit. When investors feel they’ve accumulated too much lack of performance, they are also free to “invest” even more or turn off the spigot.

The real distinction is “public” money is forcibly taken (threat of prison, etc…), and taxpayers (even in democracies) have very little effective control once taxes are in the hands of politicians (effectively, it becomes the politicians’ money).

Once money becomes “public”, it is immune from common sense.

Ron Long
May 12, 2019 3:10 am

Looks like a great report in that it captures reality in the face of delusion! The summary of the report should be: Follow The Money! Subsidy goes down, installing and maintaining goes up, and dependability goes down, and the whole scheme craters! The whole scheme looks like a classic corruption sequence: use subsidies to get the scheme underway, use kick-backs from local contractors who have a stake due to demands for buying local, then get local wildlife agencies to look the other way, then sell MW based on Green Energy requirements, and when it starts to fall apart declare bankruptcy. Did all of this money flowing around change the climate? NO!

May 12, 2019 3:26 am

All of the travails in the wind industry noted above, would be a small fraction of the wasted money on, say, the Finnish nuclear reactor. In Australia, at least, Wind and solar, firmed by batteries and pumped hydro, are currently the cheapest form of power to build and supply, as confirmed by the Market Operator, the energy companies, Bloomberg, and others.

I don’t expect this reality will be accepted by WUWT readers, who like to decry the terrible waste of renewable subsidies, while somehow finding subsidies for nuclear quite attractive. It is worth mentioning, that while the WUWT hero Trump has been in charge, fifty coal electricity plants have shut, and many more to come.

There…something to argue against.

Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 4:18 am

Am I correct in assuming you are an avid fan of Qz’s ABC, Fairfax and similar junk news organisations overseas?
If you also want to worship Bloomberg, good on ya’. His hatred towards Trump is only surpassed by CNN commentators.
According to Bloomberg two weeks ago, Trump was the reason oil was so high; last week Trump was the reason the oil price had dropped $4/bl; this week Trump was the reason the DJIA had crashed (it is 2% under an all time record).
Keep on believing in those things Tony. The world needs more people like you on the LHS of the world’s bell curve for intelligence.
Climate is changing.
Climate has always changed.
Climate will always change.
AND the changes have nothing whatsoever to do with CO2.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 4:31 am

It is worth mentioning, that while the WUWT hero Trump has been in charge, fifty coal electricity plants have shut, and many more to come.

“YUP”, and illegal immigrant “crossings” of the US-Mexican Border has increased a 1000+-% since Trump became POTUS.

R Shearer
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 12, 2019 6:34 am

And 11 million Mexicans have been in the country illegally for each of the past 30 years. Somehow, these numbers don’t match reality. But walls don’t work say the politicians living within gated communities.

Reply to  R Shearer
May 12, 2019 7:06 am

Most reliable (non-political estimates don’t exist since but the whole is polluted by liberal politics and liberal propaganda) estimates are 30 million illegal aliens.

Bryan A
Reply to  R Shearer
May 12, 2019 10:02 am

Walls don’t work say politicians living in gated communities


Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 12, 2019 8:36 am

Those coal plants have been shut because natural gas is currently a lot cheaper.
It has nothing to do with renewable non-power.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 11:55 am

Those coal plants have been shut because natural gas is currently a lot cheaper.

I think you got it ass-backward.

Obama and the EPA backed Democrats passed Laws making it too damn expensive to produce electricity via coal burning generators so they just “shut-them-down”, fired all their employees and put ten-of-thousands of coal field employees out of work. …… To wit:

EPA Formally Declares CO2 a Dangerous Pollutant APRIL 17, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday formally declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants that endanger public health and welfare, setting in motion a process that will lead to the regulation of the gases for the first time in the United States.

So, ell yes, ….. after they got the coal-fired generators shut down, …. NG was cheaper.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 12, 2019 12:47 pm

And when the coming new Little Ice Age is upon us and condensate freezes in pipelines and compressors stations, the few remaining coal & nuclear power plants cannot keep up the baseload and the GRID crashes— half the country will die. Mostly in cities. That should take care of most of the assholes like you Sammy.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 12, 2019 1:26 pm

Obama and the EPA passed laws that created the fracking revolution?????

That’s why nat gas is so cheap.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 12, 2019 1:28 pm

Increasing demand lowers prices? Really?

The coming little ice age is going to be so cold that natural gas in buried pipelines is going to condense? Really?

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 12, 2019 6:07 pm

MarkW – May 12, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Obama and the EPA passed laws that created the fracking revolution?????

That’s why nat gas is so cheap.

Mark, quit trying to impress people with your bountiful intelligence of the world you live in.

Even though the birth of fracking began in the 1860s, the birth of modern day hydraulic fracturing began in the 1940s. In 1947, Floyd Farris of Stanolind Oil and Gas began a study on the relationship between oil and gas production output, and the amount of pressurized treatment being used on each well.

Next you will be de-flocking Gore and giving Obama credit for inventing the Internet.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 12, 2019 6:29 pm

Carbon Bigfoot [ May 12, 2019 at 12:47 pm

the few remaining coal & nuclear power plants cannot keep up the baseload and the GRID crashes— half the country will die. Mostly in cities. That should take care of most of the assholes like you Sammy.

Carbon Bigfoot (in mouth), ……… and just why are you badmouthing me?

Ells bells, I was born n’ raised in “coal country”. And coal mining kept the railroads running and the RR provided my Father a good paying job and none of my family members went hungry or unclothed before, during or after the Great Depression. Long after, like into the 60’s and 70’s.

John Endicott
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 13, 2019 10:09 am

And, sam, the electric car was born in the 1800s, but that has little to do with the modern electric car market. But by your logic re: fracking, it does. The “birth” of something and when the something “takes off” does not necessarily coincide (indeed it often doesn’t as it can take some time between the “birth” and the “taking off”).

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 13, 2019 3:18 pm

John Endicott – May 13, 2019 at 10:09 am

The “birth” of something and when the something “takes off” does not necessarily coincide (indeed it often doesn’t as it can take some time between the “birth” and the “taking off”).

John, getta clue, ……. if they drill an NG well ……… they “frack” it, always have, always will.

It might help if you get yourself a couple or three cold beers, that’s what made Budweiser, …… ya know, ….. to wit:

In 2010, the industry drilled and completed 16,696 wells primarily for gas, slightly more than the number of wells drilled primarily for oil (15,753).

Top producing NG gas fields in the United States, 2013

1 Marcellus natural gas – Pennsylvania and West Virginia 2008 – 2,836 billion ft3/year

2 Newark East Barnett Shale – Texas 1981 – 1,952 billion ft3/year

You can give Obama credit for telling them where the Marcellus and Utica shale was located.

John Endicott
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 14, 2019 5:04 am

*rollseye*. Sure Sam. Sure. Clearly there’s no hope for the utterclueless like sam.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
May 13, 2019 8:47 am

“YUP”, and illegal immigrant “crossings” of the US-Mexican Border has increased a 1000+-% since Trump became POTUS.

Orchestrated/funded purposely by the marxists to discredit/attack Trump.

Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 4:35 am

G’day mate, Mick here from Adelaide.
What are you talking about? Just got the electricity bill… we pay about $4000 a year!!
Why??? Are you happy with this “cheap” electricity? I’m not, and many others struggle to pay the bill unnecessarily high and not fix a problem what is not existing in the first place.

Reply to  Mick
May 12, 2019 5:58 am

what was your consumption to give these figures – just quoting cost is irrelevant!.

perhaps better light bulbs would save your money?!

Reply to  ghalfrunt
May 12, 2019 7:39 am

Yeah. Ten dollar light bulbs will save him a fortune over 4 for a dollar light bulbs.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Mick
May 12, 2019 6:44 am

we pay about $4000 a year!!

That’s outrageous. In the tropics in Queensland I’m paying about $2,000 a year, although we don’t use a/c much because we don’t like it. Heating in the winter (including water) is most of it, but I include pool heating too, add I like my pool at 30C if possible.

Unfortunately in winter I can’t keep my pool above 28C. My relatives back in England are very sympathetic to my plight, of course…

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
May 12, 2019 8:37 am

He wanders in a straight line, is boring.

Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 4:59 am

Pumped hydro works well and is economic where geography permits. The reason it isn’t used more is that geography usually doesn’t permit. IIRC, implementing enough pumped hydro to make renewables viable in Great Britain would require all the highlands to be dammed and would require all the cement production for a century. I’ll try to find the link, anyway, the challenge is daunting.

Apparently Australia has great potential for pumped hydro.

… the Australian National University, which previously identified 22,000 potential pumped hydro sites across Australia with a storage capacity of 67,000 GWh. link

That’s a lot of electricity.

Total electricity generation in Australia was estimated to be 259,446 gigawatt hours (GWh) in calendar year 2017, similar to 2016. link

So, there may be enough pumped hydro potential in Australia to power the country for a quarter of a year!

My only question is, how much concrete would it take?

Reply to  commieBob
May 12, 2019 5:21 am

I can’t find the link I seem to remember. This link gives an idea though.

At some point, as one tries to use less favorable sites, pumped hydro installations have the problem that they take more energy to construct than they will ever deliver. EROEI

Reply to  commieBob
May 12, 2019 6:10 am

Perhaps the ANU doesn’t have a department of Geology, they would be surprised to learn that Australia the driest Continent on earth.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  BULLDOG44
May 19, 2019 4:04 am
Reply to  commieBob
May 12, 2019 6:32 am

How much concrete would it take.. also how much water will it take and are the potential pumped sites close by or are you going to have to build long stretches of transmission lines to hook them in?

It may be feasible in lots of places but Oz is a vast and relatively dry country.

Reply to  commieBob
May 12, 2019 8:21 am

Strongly suggest that those pushing the virtues of Pumped Storage look into the fact that the shoreline changes every time you pump or use the water. Yes it is the cheapest, but also it wreaks havoc on the environment. Worthless for fishing or recreation. Even the river downstream is dangerous. My son took the Jeep to the river for fishing. Hearing the warning siren he headed back to the Jeep and made it out just in time. Also seriously doubt environmentalists will like them even as much as they like Nuclear Power

Reply to  commieBob
May 12, 2019 9:24 am

It does help, too, when you have an entire continent (Australia) with almost nobody living on it. Australia has about 85% of the land area of Europe, and not many more people than the country of Romania. Leaves lots of empty nothing for pumped hydro and what-not…

For those in the US, Australia has the population a bit larger than the greater Los Angeles area, but in an area equivalent to the entire US (including Alaska and Hawaii) West of the Mississippi river. It’s about as barren as barren can be…

Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 5:36 am

Oh dear.

All the travails above are affecting an industry that doesnt even begin to nibble on nuclear toes in terms of generated reliable electricity.

Of course as a renewable troll you are otally aware of the fact that whilst legislation encourages renewables it does all it can to drive the costs of nuclear beyond economic viability.

Strangely you don’t mention this.

What is the cost of decommissioning wind farms? Who will pay?What are we going to do with the long term waste? The concrete alone will last for millions of years.

How long are we going to tolerate tens of deaths from windmills every year when there are none in the nuclear industry?

Come on, you know and I know that the best place to put a windmill is in a museum.

Stop pretending otherwise.

mike macray
Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 6:59 am

…”I don’t expect this reality will be accepted by WUWT readers,..
This WUWT reader is not inclined to accept ‘gratuitous assertions’ as fact.
Most of us are grounded in hard science, physics, chemistry, math, engineering etc., which make us reluctant to become unmoored the better to float around in the ethereal realms of hypothesis. I am open to the idea of alternate realities but until quantum mechanics is applied to automobile maintenance I will stick with proveability over probability.

Reply to  mike macray
May 12, 2019 8:40 am

Like most acolytes, Tony decrees to be facts, anything that he agrees with.

Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 7:03 am

Firmed? What a bizarre word to use. Batteries and pumped hydro don’t cure intermittency. Period. Hence, they do nothing but waste money.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2019 8:41 am

They exist to give you time to transition over to a real power.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2019 8:45 am

When he talks about how cheap renewables are to build, he’s completely ignoring the cost of the batteries/pumped storage needed to transition to a real power source, plus the cost of building enough real power generation to completely carry the load, sometimes for days on end while the wind doesn’t blow and the sun can’t get through the clouds.

Then again, he’s delusional if he thinks renewables are cheap to build.
Yes, one wind tower is cheaper than a nuclear plant. However you need thousands, if not ten’s of thousands of wind towers to provide the power of that one nuclear plant.

And don’t even get me started on the cost of first interconnecting and then maintaining those 10’s of thousands of wind towers.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2019 9:03 am

For a world of pain, try building a large dam in Australia.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2019 11:49 am

And they are not returning the electricity as ‘cheaply’ as the original generation costs. Capex and opex of dams, turbines and electrical gear for storage and regeneration probably adds 25% to the cost of power. It might make more economic sense to dispense with the wind and just pump water for the hydro project!

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2019 5:04 pm

Firmed? That’s politicianese…signifies ignorance.
Australia is not only rather dry overall, though descibed by the poet Dorothea McKellar as the ‘land of drought and flooding rains’; it is a very old, flat, worn down continent with a lot less suitability for hydro in the way that Norway and NZ possess.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 15, 2019 10:08 pm

Gamecock I am not arguing with you just asking can you please elaborate on your claim as its not immediately obvious to me that batteries and pumped hydro don’t solve the problem of the intermittency of wind and solar power

William Astley
Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 8:02 am


Green schemes only work if you use green math.

If green energy was cheaper why are German electricity prices so high?

The ‘green’ energy schemes are limited due to fundamental engineering reasons which kick in at the point where green energy is wasted without the addition of batteries.

Spending more money does not make the battery problem go away.

Cutting down trees and making wood pellets is another stupid ‘green’ idea.

Study Finds Biofuels Worse for Climate than Gasoline

Why Aren’t Renewables Decreasing Germany’s Carbon Emissions?

Germany’s carbon emissions are not declining much, despite renewables increasing to almost 30% of the country’s power mix this year (see figure below), and over 50% of its installed capacity. Unfortunately, coal has also increased to about 30% and, along with power purchases from France and other countries in Europe, is used to load-follow, or buffer, the intermittency of the renewables.
Germany’s carbon emissions per person actually rose slightly in 2013 and 2015. The country produces much more electricity than it needs and is not addressing oil in the transportation sector.

Currently German power costs about 30 euro-cents per kilowatt-hour, and so are among the highest worldwide. The price is projected to soar another 50% rise to 45 cents by 2020. That would make German power 4 times more expensive than US power, and more than double that of France. This poses a real threat to German economic competitiveness.

Renewable Energy does not work study by Google.


UK now burning 33% of world’s wood pellet imports
The world produced a record 26 million tonnes (Mt) of wood pellets last year, fuelled by increasing demand for renewable power.

Despite record volumes, the UK increased its share of imports to a third of the 14Mt total, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

UK wood pellet imports have risen rapidly as Drax, its largest power station, has progressively converted units to burn biomass instead of coal. UK imports have tripled since 2012 and its share of global trade has risen to 33%, up from 17% in 2012.

Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 8:34 am

They are only cheap to build because they are subsidized.
Regardless, they are by far the most expensive forms of energy to operate because you have to keep an equal amount of fossil fuel power generation on spinning reserve ready to take over on a moment’s notice.

I also notice that Tony once again leaves out the billions needed in batteries in order to supply the couple of minutes of power needed to bring the spinning reserves on-line.

Like the so called subsidies for fossil fuels, the subsidies for nuclear exist only in the acolytes fevered minds.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 9:03 am

If you are correct about “spinning reserve” then with nuclear you have to keep an equal amount of fossil fuel power generation on spinning reserve ready to take over on a moment’s notice should the nuclear plant trip out and shutdown.

Reply to  Mike Borgelt
May 12, 2019 11:20 am

You’re ignoring the fact that the wind varies daily. On all but the windiest days, there will be times when the windmill is stopped. On the windiest of days, it will be shut down to protect the turbines.
Nuclear rarely shuts down, and it is usually for planned maintenance. It’s not unusual for nukes to stay on line for more than a year. San Onofre had three reactors. If one shut down, the other two could take the load. Until politics and anti-nuke protests made it infeasible.

Reply to  Mike Borgelt
May 12, 2019 11:20 am

Mike Borgelt

If you are correct about “spinning reserve” then with nuclear you have to keep an equal amount of fossil fuel power generation on spinning reserve ready to take over on a moment’s notice should the nuclear plant trip out and shutdown.

Absolutely not true.
When conventional power plants (coal, nuclear, hydro combined) are running, some are running at 98-100% full capacity (nuclear most often, their cost for fuel is the least). Some of the remainder are at 95, 92, 93, 90% capacity. If a nuke or gas turbine or coal plants accidently or as an emergency (fire perhaps, equipment failure which may happen once per year per plant), the remainder are already running and pick up the load immediately.

Windmills drop off line unexpectedly every day – at random times and for unpredictable lengths of off-line and on-line. Worse, as a front moves through, the windmills generate 100% power for a few hours, then drop to nothing afterwards for several days of high pressure/low winds; then build up irregularly over several days to generate irregularly at 20% – 30% power. THAT is the reason you cannot trust windmills. They are not predictable for being “off” nor for being “on”

They DO predictably generate revenue from the taxpayers for those businesses that friendly to liberal politicians.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
May 12, 2019 12:13 pm

Lets follow your reasoning….
“If a wind turbine, or solar panel accidentally or as an emergency (fire perhaps, equipment failure or passing clouds), the remainder are already running and pick up the load immediately.
You sir, have no idea how a electric power grid operates.
You seem to neglect simple things like the fact that the operator of a wind farm can get very accurate weather forecasts three days out, which include wind speed and direction. So you are clueless when you say, “Windmills drop off line unexpectedly every day.” You also neglect that wind farms are sited where wind speed and directions are quite well understood.

Reply to  Mike Borgelt
May 12, 2019 2:46 pm

Mike Borgelt

So you are clueless when you say, “Windmills drop off line unexpectedly every day.” You also neglect that wind farms are sited where wind speed and directions are quite well understood.

No. You are wrong.

I have talked (professionally and privately) to the wind farm operating staff, the control rooms and maintenance staff, the grid distribution operators and their staff. I have stood in wind farms, counted failed and operating windmills, and failed and operating turbines that must respond every hour to actual unanticipated and emergent changes in wind farm output. Both UP and DOWN changes. A sudden increase in power availability of 50 or 150 MegaWatt is as troubling to the grid as a sudden loss of 150 MegaWatt. The sudden loss of several gigawatts of energy after a storm or cold front in only hours is even more disruptive.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
May 12, 2019 1:42 pm

It really amazes me how people like Mike here, who obviously has no idea how anything works and his basing his knowledge on one or two propaganda pamphlet’s then proceeds to lecture everyone else.

PS: Only someone who has never spent even a moment in the real world believes that wind turbine operators get weather projections that tell them minute by minute, what the wind speed is going to be to within a fraction of a mile per hour?
Because those are the kinds of forecasts that are needed, in the real world in order to project how much power at wind turbine is going to generate.

It also appears that Mike actually believes that even if we do get a regional forecast for exact wind speed, that this “projection” will be completely accurate for every wind turbine in the region. Either that or he believes that wind speed is constant no matter where in a region you live.

I’ve met a few people as utterly clueless as Mike, however most of them were still in kindergarten.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
May 12, 2019 2:12 pm

LOL @ MarkW: “that tell them minute by minute”

You ever see the size of an operational wind turbine?…..The rotational speed of the blades does not vary “minute by minute”

Get a clue buddy, when the weather forecast says the winds will be 10 MPH from NW, the breeze the turbine loves it, and will happily hum along for hours at a time producing gobs of power.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
May 12, 2019 2:27 pm

Read this MarkW, so you get a “clue” as how weather/wind forecasing works for a wind farm operator:

Steve Reddish
Reply to  RACookPE1978
May 12, 2019 9:52 pm

Mike, I looked at your link to ERCOT wind forecasting. I noticed 3 things:

1) Short-term wind forecasts (168 hours, 7 days) were updated hourly! That makes me question their reliability. If the forecasts were as reliable as you say, they would be updated on the next to the last day, right?

2) They report 1 day forecasts have a typical error of 6-8% depending on time of year.
They don’t say if that was for forecasts issued early one day for the next, or for the last forecast of each day for the next day.

3) “Much of generation is in the steep part of the power curve from 4-12 m/s is where power changes dramatically with small changes in wind speed.”
Thus a 6% error in forecast = a 12% error in actual output, according to my reading of their graph.

My conclusion: A minimum error of 12% in guestimated output for next-day power output fits the definition of unreliable power!


Reply to  Mike Borgelt
May 12, 2019 1:35 pm

Mike, if you knew anything about nuclear, you would know that having them trip out and shutdown happens less than it happens for fossil fuel powered plants. In other words, it’s not a problem.
PS: A single reactor tripping out of the hundreds available is not as big a problem as every windmill in the region shutting down because the wind stop blowing, or every solar panel in the entire country shutting down because it’s night time.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 2:07 pm

“every windmill in the region shutting down because the wind stop blowing” says the person that has never been to Texas.

Wind farm operators watch the 3-day weather forecasts, these forecasts include wind speed and direction(s.)

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 2:17 pm

So tell me MarkW, when a fossil fuel power plant trips out, is there a spinning reserve running to take up the slack when that happens?

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 2:47 pm

MarkW, with respect to solar panels, grid operators know exactly the time each and every day when the sun sets. However, in the case of a a solar thermal plant with storage, this isn’t that much of an issue.

Reply to  Mike Borgelt
May 12, 2019 3:12 pm

Mike Borgelt

MarkW, with respect to solar panels, grid operators know exactly the time each and every day when the sun sets. However, in the case of a a solar thermal plant with storage, this isn’t that much of an issue.

Nonsense. Yes, solar elevation angle matters in the gross sense in predicting solar energy from a PV array. (Did you know? 90% of solar power is created between 9:00 and 3:00 each day when solar elevation angle changes little! The hours between 3:00 and sunset, between sunrise and 9:00 am in temperate latitudes are near-useless for power. Light? Yes. Power? No.

So, the MAXIMUM solar is generated only during 5 hours per day (winter) and 7 hours per day (summer.) The rest? No energy.

(Unless you want to kill birds in the desert all year. )

Clouds-fog-rain-dust-pollen-humidity, however, affect the moment-by-moment power generated in solar thermal, solar PV, and solar-stored facilities.
Fortunately, they (solar) are so small in total that they can almost be ignored in the bigger immediate and wider-area sudden losses and gains from scattered windmills over county and regional areas.

And, of course, windmills can generate nothing in the entire quarter of the US between east Arkansas to the East Coast, from the gulf coast to the north TN border. Of that entire region, only the tiny few kilometers right on the ocean such as Cape Fear, Kitty Hawk and Cape Hatteras enjoy consistent winds.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 2:52 pm

MarkW, doesn’t a nuclear power plant’s reactor SCRAM when in the event of an earthquake (like Fukishima) ?

Doesn’t there need to be spinning reserve available in case this happens (Especially at a plant constructed a mile away from a fault in an earthquake prone area?)

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 4:11 pm

RACookPE1978, all you have shown is that solar is entirely predictable which is exactly what a grid operator needs. Time of sunrise, sunset and elevation angles are precisely known by day/hour/minute. Sky conditions (i.e. cloud cover) is known in advance via the 3-day weather forecast. So your strawmen carry no weight in terms of what a grid operator needs to know and what he/she expects from a solar provider in his/her region.

Grid operators in conjunction with wind farm operators also benefit from 3-day weather forecasting. For your information, they don’t construct wind farms in areas with poor resource/predictability of wind.

Got any more strawmen you want me to knock down?

Reply to  Mike Borgelt
May 13, 2019 11:44 am

Mike Borgelt

Sky conditions (i.e. cloud cover) is known in advance via the 3-day weather forecast. So your strawmen carry no weight in terms of what a grid operator needs to know and what he/she expects from a solar provider in his/her region.

Absolutely false. No, the power received CANNOT be predicted accurately from either solar PV cells, nor from wind farms. Solar is a little bit better, since local (small) clouds might not cover the entire acre of a large array, but neither is reliable. The grid system responds to the random changes by adjusting the true, controllable power supplies.

For your information, they don’t construct wind farms in areas with poor resource/predictability of wind.

This is exactly why large areas of the country cannot be supplied by wind. And in many (not all) of those areas, local haze and clouds reduce solar power effectiveness significantly overall, and in great amounts locally. (the Blue Ridge Mountains are named because of that haze in that particular area. Gulf Coast, inland areas are similar.)

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 4:26 pm

Where do I go for these super accurate 3 day forecasts? The ones around here cant even predict what time the rain will start tomorrow, or even IF it will happen.

Steve Reddish
Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 8:54 pm

Mike, you appear to be claiming 4 things:
1A) Knowing precisely when the wind will stop during the next 3 days, via super reliable wind forecasts, means back up fossil fuel plants don’t need to be kept spinning 24/7.
1B) Knowing precisely what time of day a solar farm will become unproductive means back up fossil fuel plants don’t need to be kept spinning 24/7.

2A) A nuclear plant going offline once per year for scheduled maintenance is the same level of unreliability as a solar farm going offline once per day.
2B) A wind farm going offline at irregular moments several times during each month is the same level of unreliability as a nuclear plant going offline at some unplanned point sometime next year.


John Endicott
Reply to  MarkW
May 13, 2019 10:28 am

Spot on Steve. Mike is clueless to the difference in frequency of outage (and he doesn’t even realize how much of a fool he makes of himself with each post on the subject. Mike the laugher you hear is people laughing at you not with you).

When you have frequent outages (IE solar daily when the sun sets, plus any cloudy day or wind shifting from blowing enough to blow either not enough or too much) is a whole different ballgame to outages that are infrequent (IE once a year for maintenance). Not to mention controlling the frequency. Man doesn’t control when the sun shines or the wind blows, so is limited in how much advanced planning can be done (hence why back-up is needed at a moments notice). regular maintenance on the other hand, is entirely in man’s control and can easily be scheduled when other plants will be available to pick up the slack.

John Endicott
Reply to  MarkW
May 13, 2019 10:38 am

Mike, if you knew anything about nuclear

From his posts, we can definitely conclude he knows next to nothing about nuclear (or wind, or solar, or pretty much any other form of energy generation beyond what he read in a propaganda pamphlet).

John Endicott
Reply to  Mike Borgelt
May 13, 2019 10:44 am

If you are correct about “spinning reserve” then with nuclear you have to keep an equal amount of fossil fuel power generation on spinning reserve ready to take over on a moment’s notice should the nuclear plant trip out and shutdown.</I.

yes, because a "trip" event that happens rarely (maybe once in an entire year, if that) is on the same level of reliability as a "trip" even that happens frequently (happening daily or even multiple times in a day). Having a temporary power-out occur once every few years is a regrettable annoyance. Having a temporary power-out occurring multiple times a day is unacceptable. Hence why the latter requires spinning backup to mitigate whereas the former does not.

Mike, may I suggest that next time you engage your brain before posting.

William Astley
Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 9:37 am

This is an interesting WUWT article linked to below that provides more details concerning the German green energy failure.

Germany has been able to hide the battery problem as they export they surplus ‘green’ energy to neighbouring countries and then buy back hydrocarbon generated.

The other issue is power lines. New power lines and upgrades to power lines are required to bring power from remote wind locations to cities where the power is required. The cost for new power lines, substations, and so on and the energy cost is not include in the cost of the wind and sun gathering schemes.

There is also an issue with power system upgrades to handle massive roof top solar. It is inefficient to build roof top solar rather than a solar panel ‘farm’ due to angle and the fact that dust reduces the solar panel output by roughly 20% so commercial solar farms use demineralized water to clean the panels. The solar farm I am familiar with cleans their solar panels with demineralized water ever day based on cost benefit analysis.

Another issue is Germany has just pushed their high energy products to the US and China by increasing local electrical prices.

Germany has installed solar and wind power to such an extent that it should theoretically be able to satisfy the power requirement on any day that provides sufficient sunshine and wind. However, since sun and wind are often lacking – in Germany even more so than in other countries like Italy or Greece – the country only manages to produce around 27% of its annual electric power needs from these sources.

In 2017 about half of Germany’s wind-based electricity production was exported. Neighboring countries typically do not want this often unexpected power, and the German power companies must therefore pay them to get rid of the excess. German customers have to pick up the bill.
If solar and wind power plants are disconnected from actual need in this manner, wind and solar facility owners are paid as if they had produced 90% of rated output. The bill is also sent to customers.

Reply to  William Astley
May 15, 2019 10:24 pm

I read somewhere that in December last year Germany solar farms received only 10 (6.5%) hours of sunshine out of a theoretical total of 155 hours (31 days by 5 supposed sunshine hours a day in winter) Why would anyone invest in solar in northern Germany in particular ?

Bryan A
Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 10:13 am

Mining, transporting, refining, manufacturing, etc. of any ore whether it is yellow cake for nuclear, cadmium for batteries, or other rare Earth elements for wind turbines or solar panels, still has the same environmental impacts without regard to what element you require, none are renewable. The only reason for the increased expense of nuclear generation costs is environ-mental over regulations unnecessarily driving up construction costs

Erast Van Doren
Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2019 2:55 pm

Germany has ca. 30k wind turbines today, for the money spent on the construction alone we could have built 30 nuclear reactors, which would reliably provide 40GW of electricity, day and night… Together with 20GW from existing nuclear reactors they could provide over 80% of the entire German consumption. A bit of fracking could have been providing the rest. For one third of the current price.

Capell Aris
Reply to  Tony
May 13, 2019 1:06 am

Opting for a fleet of CCGTs is cheaper and leaner on CO 2

May 12, 2019 3:37 am

They [were] always farming subsidies more than wind . So it was predictable so these went down so would ‘interest ‘ , while companies got involved when it was easy money , the first rush was also based on the ‘easy and good sites ‘ life is harder now .
Has for the cost involved in offshore wind farm maintenance, totally predictable given the reality of the environment.
What I expect is a lot of ‘shell companies ‘ being set to ‘buy ‘ renewable assist as they come to end of their life cycle and the costs of [dismantling] them become clear .. Of course these companies will have the liability but not the resources to carry-out this work , so either they rust where they stand , or the public picks up the costs .

David Hood
May 12, 2019 3:40 am

What a great way to start the new week!!!!!!!
I wonder where the wound is, that I have some salt for??
But that would be just be plain mean, wouldn’t it.

Ok, darn it….I’ll do it anyway.
🙂 🙂

May 12, 2019 3:46 am

funny how places like Kiribas and tuuvalu dont sem to want to surround themselves ith windfarms?
all the begging for money for agw but they use fossil fuels to run their massive tourism industry;-) hmm?

Reply to  ozspeaksup
May 12, 2019 6:15 am

They don’t have enough land available now that they have built their brand new International Airport and hotels

John Endicott
Reply to  BULDOG44
May 13, 2019 10:33 am

They have plenty of “off shore” space. But, Like Ted Kennedy, they don’t want anything that would ruin the view (as that would turn off the tourists).

May 12, 2019 3:55 am

Wind and solar power generation amounted to 32+7=39 GW in 2018. That combined wattage represents 8 % of the 480 GW of U.S. electricity production from all sources that year. The question is: how long would it take to achieve the 100 % electricity goal from just W&S?

Wind has been adding about 3 GW each year recently, solar 2 GW. Those growths are linear which makes it easy to predict that, should that trend continue, wind would reach about 300 GW and solar 200 GW in one hundred years. This century-long time-frame neglects the impact of the upcoming wide adoption of electric vehicles, population growth, and robotization of industry. As for covering the overall U.S. energy consumption of 3300 GW, it would take over a half a millennium for wind and solar, the only renewable sources that exhibit output growth, to reach that level.

Phillip Bratby
May 12, 2019 4:46 am

As always, an excellent article from Dr John Constable

May 12, 2019 4:55 am

The problems have been seeping out for a while.

I wrote Bearings: The Achilles Heel of Wind Turbines about a frank discussion I had with a senior UK wind turbine engineer.

I don’t think any amount of positive thinking is going to fix this one.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
May 12, 2019 5:48 am

Just give Elon Musk another few billion $$$ each year and he’ll also fix the bearing problems.
Just like he fixed the battery problems. You know, those things that recharge with stacks of coal fired power.
If only Oh Bummer was still around, Elon would be even richer!!!

Reply to  Eric Worrall
May 12, 2019 11:38 am

I remember your article well and fondly. It put details as to why wind turbines fail. Again, thank you for it.

old construction worker
May 12, 2019 5:39 am

“…by making a distressed sale to Asian, probably Chinese, companies seeking a cheap way of acquiring a wind power market toehold in Europe.” This whole renewable energy thing, building more and more wind and solar, reminds me of why Egypt and Rome went broke wasting resources on building pyramids and ruling the world.

May 12, 2019 6:24 am

One of your references is for 2012 and is about gearless turbine being a possible future.
I have posted here before but I will repeat
Enercon have been manufacturing gearless designs for years.
The design also does not use neodymium.
800kW to 5MW

However I suppose you should also take into account the statement of the POTUS that WECs cause cancer!

May 12, 2019 7:23 am

Wanna buy some Solyndra debt?

May 12, 2019 7:48 am

“Is the Long Renewables Honeymoon Over?”

Why would people who have based their lives on denying reality be persuaded by a little reality?

Reply to  damp
May 12, 2019 8:10 am

Not to mention it has been one crappy honeymoon.

Coach Springer
May 12, 2019 8:17 am

Obviously they need more government money and competitive advantages.

May 12, 2019 8:25 am

“The machines used, the Siemens 3.6–120, have suffered leading edge,”

Have suffered leading edge, what?

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2019 5:06 pm

‘Charges for blade repairs caused by harsh weather conditions (in particular offshore, but also onshore) had to be recognized,’ he says. ‘Those issues are mainly related to surface erosion beyond normal wear and tear seen on the leading edges toward the tips of turbine blades.
‘These damages are caused by the stress exerted when unusually intense rain or high amounts of spray water hit the blade tips, which move at high velocity,’ he continues. ‘On this basis, blades exposed to especially harsh weather conditions exhibit the highest erosion risk.
‘A leading edge protection based on a polyurethane coating was generally introduced on all offshore blades as a preventive action this summer and is planned to be introduced for all blades on sites with harsh weather conditions. This system has already been successfully applied for selected sites.’

May 12, 2019 8:56 am

The renewables future portends forests of rusting unused wind turbines to remind us of our folly. A whole industry to rid the oceans and countrysides of these monuments to stupidity will evolve …. most likely run by the same people responsible for installing them. And then there’s the PV farms.

John Robertson
May 12, 2019 11:16 am

Maybe this is just maturing journalists?
After you have written enough puff and fluff pieces,you run out of things to write.
This puts your “vocation” at risk.
Maybe all we see here is journalists trying to save their paychecks and only accidently digging deeper into the nonsense that wind and solar “Base load” power represent.

Alternately Mark Twains;”A lie is halfway around the whole before the truth even gets its boots on”

Running out of Other Peoples Money could also be playing a part.

“Renewable Energy” so cheap you cannot afford it.

May 12, 2019 2:21 pm

Bard Offshore 1, which commissioned in 2013, has eighty 5 MW turbines, with a total capacity of 400 MW.
That may be the nominal nameplate capacity, but please quote delivered generation, likely to vary from 0-250 MW, with an average of about 130 MW. And then needs to backed up by a reliable source of electricity.
Now compare that with a single efficient gas turbine capable of reliably delivering 550 MW.
I know which I would prefer to be delivering my electricity.

May 12, 2019 2:53 pm

If 15 GW of wind capacity is within a few years of ageing out, and the Germans still plan to exit coal and nuclear plant in the mid 2020’s , I hope someone has a plan. It sound like a man made catastrophe of another kind.

William deLorimier
May 12, 2019 3:52 pm

This article reminds me of Bob Dylan’s song Mediterranean Homesick Blues.

Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
May 13, 2019 12:59 am

Back around 2003 when I was still in the wind business, and I tried to talk to people about maintenance of windmills which I knew from my research into the development of wind power was going to be a massive massive headache and almost certainly the difference between profit and loss.

To cut a long story short – they hadn’t thought about it beyond the idea of massive extremely expensive to operate boats which they were going to use to install them.

I knew it wasn’t a viable strategy, but it was also abundantly clear that they wouldn’t even start thinking about the issues of maintaining windmills at sea until they all started failing due to the multitude of problems that beset all windmills.

All I can say is I’m glad I looked at the actual science and got out.

Vincent Causey
May 13, 2019 4:25 am

Germany needs Greta Thunberg to lecture them in the evils of back sliding. I’m sure after a good talking too in the bundestag, they will vote to declare climate emergency.

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