Blocking The Wind

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I keep reading about how offshore wind farms are the electricity generating method of the future, because they’re so darn inexpensive. Here’s the New York Times on the subject:

The Biden administration wants up to 2,000 turbines in the water in the next eight and a half years. Officials recently approved a project near Martha’s Vineyard that languished during the Trump administration and in May announced support for large wind farms off California’s coast. The $2 trillion infrastructure plan that Mr. Biden proposed in March would also increase incentives for renewable energy.”

The cost of offshore wind turbines has fallen about 80 percent over the last two decades, to as low as $50 a megawatt-hour. While more expensive per unit of energy than solar and wind farms on land, offshore turbines often make economic sense because of lower transmission costs.

So I thought I’d walk through the costs on one of the few US offshore wind farms, the Block Island Wind Farm.

First, where is Block Island when it’s at home? Well, it’s a small island off the coast of Rhode Island, not far from the tip of Long Island, New York.

Location of Block Island is shown by the red pin

And what are the economics of the Block Island Wind Farm? Well, it contains five 6-megawatt (MW, or 106 watts) giant wind turbines. Of course, on average they don’t put out 6 megawatts, because sometimes the wind doesn’t blow … in fact, on average they only put out about a third of that, about 2 megawatts. That works out to about 92 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year.

How much is that energy worth? Well, the nationwide average purchase cost for a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity is around 4 cents … and it’s then resold to the customer at around 13 cents/kWh.

And how much is Rhode Island paying for this “inexpensive” wind energy? Hang on to your jaw so it doesn’t hit the floor … they’re paying 24.4 cents/kWh, six times the national average, and it’s going up by 3.5% per year … so in ten years it will be 34.4 cents/kWh.

The five wind turbines off of Block Island

But wait, there’s more. Because of Rhode Island’s insane “renewables mandate” forcing them to buy “inexpensive” renewable energy, yes, they’re paying the wind farm owners 24.4 cents/kWh to purchase the power … but the power company still needs to add another ten cents/kWh for transmission and maintenance and profit. So for this “inexpensive green wind power”, the poor schlubs in Rhode Island are paying the wind farm owners about 34 cents per kWh, and in a decade it will be 44 cents/kWh to the consumer. Oh, plus the surcharge to pay for the transmission cable as discussed below.

Why is the power cost so high? Because … well … not to put too fine a point on it, the idea that offshore wind power is inexpensive is a total myth. As a lifelong blue-water sailor I can attest to the truth of the old seadog’s maxim, which is “The wind is free … but everything else costs money”.

Plus the greed factor, of course …

Let’s start with the initial costs. The construction and installation of the wind farm cost $350 million. The transmission line from Block Island to the mainland was another $114 million, paid for separately by the mainland ratepayers.

Then you have to add in “O&M”, operation and maintenance costs, which are about 1-2 cents per kilowatt-hour generated per year for offshore wind, conservatively at least another million dollars per year at Block Island, perhaps more. At an average of 28.6 cents/kWh over the next ten years, power sales will net about $25 million per year … so the company owning the wind farm won’t even make a profit until 14 or so years down the line … and that’s not counting the “oops” factor.

What is the “oops” factor? Well, it’s unexpected maintenance, or a wind turbine that gets destroyed in a storm, or, well, something like the following:

Oops … in addition to paying $114 million for the transmission cable in the first place, the poor Rhode Island ratepayers are also on the hook for a portion of the $31 megabucks to pay to re-bury the power cable that got exposed by waves, wind, and currents. And to add insult to injury, the owners are saying it will cost more than the original estimate of $31 million to fix it … double oops.

And where does the greed factor fit in? Again from the Rhode Island “Providence Journal”:

National Grid reaps $46M in excess profits from RI wind surcharge

PROVIDENCE: More than a decade ago, when policymakers put Rhode Island on the path to hosting the first offshore wind farm in the nation, they made a bargain. They knew that power from the Block Island Wind Farm would be expensive but were willing to pay the price in the hopes that the project would spur creation of a new clean-energy industry in the state.

What they didn’t bargain for was that the wind farm would become a gold mine for an energy company that already had a dominant presence in Rhode Island: National Grid, the main electric utility in the state and the owner of the 20-mile undersea transmission cable that brings power generated by the project from a Block Island substation to the mainland power grid.

In the four years since the five wind turbines went into operation, National Grid has made $46 million in excess profits from delivering electricity through the cable, according to filings by the utility in response to questions by state regulators. That’s money coming into National Grid on top of what was estimated for operations and maintenance of the cable, taxes on it, and even how much the company calculated it needed to pay off its installation and construction costs over time while still earning a reasonable profit. And it’s money paid entirely by Rhode Islanders through a surcharge on their electric bills.

What’s more, even though a good portion of the money was designated for operations and maintenance of the cable, National Grid never set the profits aside in a reserve fund. So when the company agreed last year to rebury part of the cable after it became exposed by waves, National Grid decided to capitalize the $31 million in repairs. That pushed the total cost of the transmission project up to more than $145 million, and, as a result, the company is set to make electric customers pay even more for the cable’s use. Because the surcharge is based on the value of the cable, the rate is scheduled to increase in May, essentially rewarding National Grid with more money for fixing a problem that state coastal regulators, long before construction began, warned could arise. Meanwhile Ørsted, the Danish company that owns the wind farm and the portion of the cable that runs from the turbines to the Block Island substation, is paying out of pocket for its share of the reburial.

And I haven’t even gotten to the decommissioning costs for when the turbines die, and they have to be removed from way out in the middle of the ocean … oops.

So there you have it, folks—cheap, clean, green, inexpensive offshore wind. What’s not to like?

My best to all, even the fast-dwindling number of poor benighted folks who still believe that the sun and wind can power the planet …

w.

Da Usual: PLEASE QUOTE THE EXACT WORDS YOU ARE DISCUSSING. I can and am happy to defend what I wrote. I can’t defend what you think I meant when I wrote it.

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Chaswarnertoo
June 8, 2021 10:05 am

Once the population is reduced we won’t need cheap electricity…

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
June 8, 2021 10:49 am

More upside is that off shore windmills chop down sea birds (they’re a nusance anyway). This will awaken the Marxist in all sea life as they huddle around the bases of windmills waiting for that next free lunch to fall from the sky.

griff
Reply to  co2isnotevil
June 8, 2021 12:23 pm

They don’t.

The Danes and UK RSPB have worked that out.

Vuk
Reply to  griff
June 8, 2021 2:01 pm

Hi Griffo
Yes, because media has stop reporting it, I heard from an important ‘climatier’ calling it ‘collateral damage’ for a bigger good

Reply to  griff
June 8, 2021 2:15 pm

Any data, any proof ?
Ah, griff was writing, no data, no proof, – instead blah blah.

MarkW
Reply to  griff
June 8, 2021 2:33 pm

In griff’s “mind” a press release saying that the company is aware of a problem is the equivalent to having the problem already solved.

Komerade Cube
Reply to  MarkW
June 9, 2021 4:41 am

“In Griff’s mind” Griff doesn’t have a mind, “he” is a bank of Chinese Army spammers crowded together in a bunker who spend a ten hour shift spamming blogs and news sites that the CCP disapproves of.

Tom
Reply to  griff
June 8, 2021 6:41 pm

Care to post some proof of your claims Barry Anthony?
Didn’t think so.

Rhs
Reply to  Tom
June 8, 2021 7:12 pm

Barry claims to be in TX, Grif appears to claim residency in the British Isles.

Redge
Reply to  griff
June 8, 2021 11:08 pm

According to the BBC, the problem is far from solved.

Maria Thaker, a professor of ecology at the Indian Institute of Science’s Center for Ecological Sciences says:

she doesn’t believe ecosystems at wind farms “are going to be destroyed and damaged beyond repair, but they have shifted the species composition (meaning which species are there) and the way these species respond.” She adds that the death of birds and bats is not the only reason for the environmental concern. “The creation of roads, and human activity under the windfarms disturbs large mammals and so they avoid the area as well.

Ideas included painting the blades purple, a robot that can spot and recognise birds (WTF!), and acoustics (Bat out of Hell, Ozzy Osbourne?)

The most shocking part of this for me is the BBC even recognising there is a problem with bird and bat choppers.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  griff
June 9, 2021 2:09 am

UK RSPB???? These are the eco-bunny conservation/protection bunch who campaigned for years to have the Sparrow Hawk made a protected species so numbers could not be controlled & hunting them to do so was banned! After protection was granted, within a few years the UK RSPB et al started to observe that the Sparrow population, & that of many other small birds, started to decline! What was the cause? The two classic fall-back positions of habitat destruction & good old Climate Change! Then someone embarrassingly pointed out that the primary diet of Sparrow Hawks, was in fact………Sparrows & other small birds!!! The clue is in the title, join the dots somebody!!! Conservationists don’t always, if ever, fully think things through!!!

Gerry, England
Reply to  Alan the Brit
June 9, 2021 1:10 pm

To which you can add Red Kites which are now so large in number around Oxfordshire and the Chilterns they are attacking people to steal their food, most likely because there isn’t enough of their normal food to feed what is said to be now thousands of them. The RSPB denied that Red Kites eat more of our much loved small birds but since they were involved in the release programme would you trust them? No, thought not.

Komerade Cube
Reply to  griff
June 9, 2021 4:38 am

”they don’t” what, idiot? Are you too busy spamming other sites for your Chinese masters to make a complete sentence today, Griffy?

Hugs
Reply to  co2isnotevil
June 11, 2021 12:00 am

So, how many endangered birds get killed yearly? It is interesting how hot questions are often not the ones you can successfully google. … or you can, but it will take much more effort.

It is like asking how many pro-Trump people were listening to Trump’s speech in DC. ‘We don’t know, it is difficult to know’. Look, you know it pretty well, and if you don’t know, it is because you are just afraid of publishing the fact.

But I digress. I don’t take griff’s no as an answer.

June 8, 2021 10:18 am

Fools and their money are soon parted

Paul S
Reply to  John VC
June 8, 2021 11:06 am

Unfortunately, Non-fools also get their money parted

OBX
Reply to  Paul S
June 8, 2021 6:06 pm

That’s the problem with electing fools. Collateral damage.

Komerade Cube
Reply to  Paul S
June 9, 2021 4:43 am

If you live in RI then you’re probably foolish.

Derg
Reply to  John VC
June 8, 2021 7:27 pm

It’s a terrible tax on the poor. Effn robber Barrons

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  John VC
June 9, 2021 1:22 pm

These are people who believe that labels can alter reality. If an athlete labels himself a woman, then, they say, he must be a woman, and should be allowed to compete in sports against women. And outrageously expensive energy is labeled “alternative energy,” and allowed to compete with real energy, even though it can’t. But what do you expect from people who call their home “Rhode Island,” even though it’s obviously very much not an island? Heck, it’s not even a peninsula wannabe.

bigoilbob
June 8, 2021 10:22 am

Is $0.244/kwh materially different than what Rhode Islanders are paying now?

https://electricityrates.com/rhode-island/

And they now mostly use nat. gas, which MUST go up in price soon, or the shalers won’t be able to borrow for the CAPEX required to maintain deliverability. Those shale gas producers are already walking dead, mostly from frac hits, competitive drainage, and consuming their seed corn – oil field service capacity, at below replacement rates.

LdB
Reply to  bigoilbob
June 8, 2021 10:58 am

Yeah right until they have the highest electricity price in mainland USA they have nothing to complain about and have never had it so good.

So lets ask the obvious question to a true believer when the GAS is stopped do you think the rate will get better or worse?

Last edited 3 months ago by LdB
bigoilbob
Reply to  LdB
June 8, 2021 4:09 pm

So lets ask the obvious question to a true believer when the GAS is stopped do you think the rate will get better or worse?”

Who is “stopping” the gas? The most anyone is inflicting on this industry are the beginnings of requirements that they pay more of their own way.

The sad truth is that most gas fracking is a hot house flower economically, and is death starring as we speak. More frac hits, more competitive drainage, an oilfield service sector that is on it’s last legs.

So, even with the undocumented, butt yanked adder for transmission maintenance and profit, Rhode Island gas costs will soon be higher than comparable wind costs. And as for the even more wistful story telling about a “return to coal”, n’gonna happen. They have communized so many of their external costs, for so long, that recovering them with the relatively tiny remaining truly economic operations would be a Trumpian YUGE $ loser. Just making good on existing (and currently shirked) medical and pension obligations would greatly overload any future production. Add in asset retirements and coal ash cleanup, DANGER, DANGER!!!

https://oilfieldbasics.com/2018/09/23/frac-hits/#:~:text=A%20frac%20hit%20is%20essentially,one%20or%20more%20nearby%20wells.&text=Wether%20or%20not%20offset%20wells,%2C%20well%20spacing%2C%20and%20more.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13202-019-0710-1

https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/oil-and-gas/decoding-oil-gas-downturn/oilfield-services-segment.html

LdB
Reply to  bigoilbob
June 9, 2021 12:26 am

So your whole answer is speculation and dribble as decided by you … Bit like coal is doomed according to Griff … yeah not buying it.

How about stick to answering the question asked with real facts not invent-a-fact.

Last edited 3 months ago by LdB
paul courtney
Reply to  bigoilbob
June 8, 2021 12:00 pm

Mr. bob: I agree with you 100%, we must go to coal to produce electricity. Did not think you were a fan.

The Dark Lord
Reply to  bigoilbob
June 8, 2021 12:30 pm

you are confusing wholesale and retail prices …

MarkW
Reply to  The Dark Lord
June 8, 2021 12:40 pm

I doubt bob knows the difference.

MarkW
Reply to  bigoilbob
June 8, 2021 12:39 pm

Among your other flaws, we can now add lack of reading comprehension.
The rate payers are paying way more than 24cents/kwh. Which you would know had you actually read the article.
As to you beliefs regarding frakking, those have been refuted so many times that it’s becoming pathetic.

bigoilbob
Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2021 3:48 pm

“As to you beliefs regarding frakking, those have been refuted so many times that it’s becoming pathetic.”

We call it fraCking. Hardly beliefs, as the ever increasing engineering and economic problems of oil and gas shale production are consuming lots of pages in every recent issue of the official petroleum engineering publication, the Journal of Petroleum Technology.

Last edited 3 months ago by bigoilbob
OBX
Reply to  bigoilbob
June 8, 2021 6:19 pm

It’s actually frac. As in fracturing.

LdB
Reply to  bigoilbob
June 9, 2021 12:30 am

More facts as decided by the great prophet Bob … so do you have a name for your religion?

jorgekafkazar
Reply to  LdB
June 9, 2021 1:31 pm

It is Baghdad Bob’s Church of the Wholly Propaganda.

ggm
June 8, 2021 10:23 am

Willis. As you and everyone who has spent time in salt water knows…. nothing mechanical lasts long in the sea. I would bet that every offshore turbine lasts less than 2/3 or even 1/2 of what the engineers who designed it thought it would.

Pauleta
Reply to  ggm
June 8, 2021 11:06 am

Things next to the shore don’t last long too

Reply to  ggm
June 8, 2021 11:33 am

Exactly. Right about the time they have recouped their investment, or even earlier, they will be into growing maintenance problems and turbine replacement. I bet that by that time they will not want to use the older structure and build all new ones, while leaving the old to degrade in place. I have yet to see any place seriously try to recycle this junk.

AC Osborn
Reply to  Charles Higley
June 8, 2021 1:59 pm

The first thing to go way before that are the Blades due to salt water erosion damaging their leading edges.

PaulH
Reply to  Charles Higley
June 8, 2021 5:23 pm

Chances are someone will have to scuttle the whole works after it’s been abandoned by the original “investors”. Do those blades sink or float?

rbabcock
Reply to  Charles Higley
June 9, 2021 6:14 am

I would bet the service life on a large wind turbine is a fabricated number based on what it has to be to get one sold. Not many wind turbines with a “15 year life” will get installed.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  ggm
June 8, 2021 1:23 pm

Some actual numbers. On shore wind is supposed to last at least 20 years. The older smaller ones actually had about 25 year service lives. The newer bigger wind turbines seldom make it to 20 years because of inherent acial bearing wobble. Was discussed and illustrated in Climate Etc guest post ‘True Cost of Wind’.

Roger Knights
Reply to  ggm
June 8, 2021 5:30 pm

Wasn’t there an article in the UK a year or so ago saying that wind turbines there wouldn’t last nearly as long as expected?

Ben Vorlich
June 8, 2021 10:30 am

Willis,
When Griff turns up saying how wonderful UK wind is. Tell him that in the UK the amount generated by the entire UK fleet of on and off shore turbines has not exceeded 5GW since  2021-06-03 03:15:36, over 5 days. For a lot of the time less than 2GW, curently 2.3GW.

Wikipedia By the end of May 2021, the UK had 10,961 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 24.1 gigawatts: 13.7 gigawatts of onshore capacity and 10.4 gigawatts of offshore capacity,[4] the sixth largest capacity of any country in 2019

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 8, 2021 10:49 am

and that comes to what % of the the UKs total power generated?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 8, 2021 1:01 pm

Currently, a bit less than 10%. If it were producing at nameplate, it would be around 90%. Tell me again how good wind is.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
June 8, 2021 1:16 pm

the difference between idealism and realism

H.R.
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
June 8, 2021 2:20 pm

No problemo, D.J.

Just add another 90,000 wind turbines and Bob’s yer uncle.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  H.R.
June 9, 2021 6:37 am

“Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Last edited 3 months ago by D. J. Hawkins
Ken Burnley
Reply to  H.R.
June 9, 2021 8:33 am

But even 90,000 turbines will produce absolutely nothing if the wind isn’t blowing!

H.R.
Reply to  Ken Burnley
June 9, 2021 11:49 am

First, let’s see if the U.K. can even get to 100,000 wind turbines, Ken.

If they can get there from here, then we can start calculating how many AA batteries they’ll need for backup when the wind doesn’t blow.
😜

Climate believer
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 8, 2021 12:58 pm

It’s pretty much the same all over the continent too, there is no wind anywhere at the moment.

H.R.
Reply to  Climate believer
June 8, 2021 2:21 pm

Gives new meaning to “Gone With The Wind.”

It’s not just an old movie anymore.

Komerade Cube
Reply to  H.R.
June 9, 2021 4:49 am

an old movie that we’re no longer allowed to watch because woke.

AC Osborn
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 8, 2021 2:02 pm

Ben, it has only been just over 5GW a couple of times since the 25th of May.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  AC Osborn
June 8, 2021 6:39 pm

No, no! You don’t have the right spin on that. It should be, “And, it has been over 5 GW at least twice!”

Komerade Cube
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 9, 2021 4:50 am

it has been regularly over 5GW, enough power to heat umpty thousand homes with inexpensive free green power from the warm and happy sun. /s

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 9, 2021 12:46 am

Yes, but they have solved the problem with blades slaughtering wildlife, so bow before his Mighty Straw Man. (just downwind and no naked flames)

jtom
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
June 10, 2021 10:29 am

It’s rarely exceeded 5GW since the first week of April.

Robert of Texas
June 8, 2021 10:31 am

Maybe they can add large carnival-style cars to the ends of the blades and turn this into a tourist attraction? “Block Island Mills” kinds of rolls off the tongue.

I really want to see what happens after the first really big wind storm hits the wind turbines. It’s bound to happen over 20 years. Or a large ship hits one of them.

The really good news is it will attract sharks to fest upon all the dead birds floating on the surface.

Dennis G Sandberg
June 8, 2021 10:33 am

the money comes from the investment and production tax credits that are guaranteed by mandate and grid priority. We The People, by our voting decisions, proclaim that the virtue signaling from unworkable wind and solar, to prevent the non-existing climate crisis from fossil fuel burning, is well worth paying twice for our electricity, Expect a lot more “virtue” during the BIden/Harris eight year reign.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
June 9, 2021 4:12 am

I wouldn’t bet on the Biden-Harris administration being around more than four years. After the 2022 elections, the Biden-Harris administration will be a Lame Duck administration. Imo.

Komerade Cube
Reply to  Tom Abbott
June 9, 2021 4:52 am

Tom ,you’re assuming that our votes are actually counted. I’m not betting on that. I think biden / harris / etc are in for the long haul. The Ottomans lasted for what, 800 years?

ResourceGuy
June 8, 2021 10:37 am

So working offshore and on elevated structures is cheap? Do they mean like easy to fool readers cheap or don’t factor in all the costs cheap?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 8, 2021 10:52 am

curious but how do you install a foundation for an offshore turbine? I’ve seen videos of the contruction of the cement foundation for on shore turbines- they’re huge- the offshore foundations must be even bigger what with both water and air pushing against the turbine- I presume the foundations are made onshore and towed out, then sunk

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 8, 2021 11:35 am

Some blithering idiots want to make flaming wind turbines that are anchored. How could anything go wrong?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Charles Higley
June 8, 2021 12:26 pm

somewhere I read about a new design for offshore wind turbines that float

Bill
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 8, 2021 2:20 pm

Pretty soon we’ll have “cold fusion”. 🙂

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 8, 2021 3:45 pm

Maybe this is where Tesla’s dream of implementing ‘free’ energy can come true. Millions of floating windmills roaming the oceans and shooting lightning bolts into the sky.

Joe B
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 9, 2021 1:51 am

Mr. Z,
An unspoken issue with floating turbines is the enormous draught (water depth) needed for the below-surface flotation hardware.
The Hywind turbines use spar buoys that are submerged 140 feet, IIRC, and needed to be constructed in a deep fjord in Norway.
(Virtually no US port is deeper than 50 feet).

Then there is the ‘topside clearance (freeboard).
Even looking at 300 feet clearance, there are virtually no US harbors that have bridges that high above water.
(Chesapeake, specifically built for military transport being one exception with its tunnel).

The alternative design uses a micro semi submersible (pilot off Portugal), but all this stuff is so obscenely expensive only the most delusional fools give it any credence whatsover.

Simon Derricutt
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 9, 2021 3:59 am

Joseph – see https://revolution-green.com/floating-wind-system-using-multiple-1-mw-turbines-operates-bottom-fixed-system-prices/ for a floating design. Claims of being massively cheaper and a 50-year life that I severely doubt, but maybe some people will be convinced.

Notanacademic
Reply to  Charles Higley
June 8, 2021 12:37 pm

Think you might be a victim of predictive text, Think you meant floating. 🙂 flaming would be very entertaining though

Last edited 3 months ago by Notanacademic
MarkW
Reply to  Charles Higley
June 8, 2021 2:36 pm

Speaking of flaming wind turbines, didn’t we have a picture of one of those last year?

Joe B
Reply to  MarkW
June 9, 2021 2:01 am

MarkW,
Actually, flaming turbines are not that unusual an event, especially with the older designs that were poorly engineered in regards to oil changes.
Requiring about 85 gallons of oil for the gearboxes, early designs had no drain plug and a 2 man bucket brigade was needed for its biannual fluid change.

Eliminating the chronic gearbox problems by 2015 and adopting direct drive saved this industry as it – mostly – bypassed lubrication issues.
However, there are SO many underreported operational issues – especially as these turbines have become so large – that this entire approach (offshore wind farms) will become like the SST airplane or the Wankel engine … great ideas that ultimately didn’t work.

Komerade Cube
Reply to  Joe B
June 9, 2021 4:56 am

>>>early designs had no drain plug<<< Seriously? So the same guys doing the climate models drew up the plans for the gearbox? Or perhaps they were thinking that the CAD software was smart enough to add in the drain plug by itself?

Reply to  Joe B
June 11, 2021 11:10 pm

Wouldn’t the Wankel work just fine without the current CO2 emission standards?

Streetcred
Reply to  Charles Higley
June 8, 2021 10:03 pm

Next thing they’ll be buzzing around like motor boats 😉

Climate believer
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 8, 2021 12:25 pm

 “I presume the foundations are made onshore and towed out, then sunk”

Yes, here’s an image of one being made in France. All that green concrete and steel.

Off shore wind turbine base.jpg
gbaikie
Reply to  Climate believer
June 8, 2021 1:01 pm

There is an upside, these could be foundations for ocean settlements

another ian
Reply to  gbaikie
June 8, 2021 8:03 pm

The basis for future land claims Chinese style?

Joe B
Reply to  Climate believer
June 9, 2021 2:13 am

CB,
The adoption of GBF (Gravity Base Foundations) is being motivated as much by the problems and expenses involved in both the monopile and jacket designs used so far.
It will be interesting to see what ‘issues’ may arise in future years with this iteration.
The physical forces being exerted by the massive, massive size of these things is extraordinary.
Operating in harsh conditions 24/7/365 does not help.
Not that it can’t be done, but when one compares a 1,000 Megawatt gas plant to these monstrosities it becomes beyond insane to continue down this offshore path.

Joe B
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 9, 2021 1:41 am

Mr. Z,
Monopiles are the most common foundation, thst is, massive piles driven into the seabed.
There are an incredible array of technical and operational problems associated with offshore wind farms that receive scant attention.
Regarding monopile foundations specifically, there is ongoing very high rate of rust and electrolysis issues.

The Transition Piece (the part that sits directly atop the monopile), has had enormous grouting problems and ‘wobbling’ which is highly detrimental to operations.
Along with cable problems, leading blade edge degradation, horrific labor expenses (rough seas do not help), etc., anyone advocating offshore wind is either an idiot or a fraudster.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Joe B
June 9, 2021 3:14 am
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 9, 2021 8:25 am

“A letter sent to the Dutch parliament by the minister of economic affairs titled “Offshore Wind Energy Roadmap 2030” explained that so-called green hydrogen could prevent the price of electricity generated at sea from becoming too low to support further offshore investment.”

Ummmm, Whaaaattt???

Notanacademic
Reply to  Joe B
June 9, 2021 5:14 am

“Anyone advocating offshore wind is either an idiot or a fraudster. ”

I think they are the latter and they think we are the former.

June 8, 2021 10:38 am

Also, there are reasons to question the levelized-cost estimates from sources like Lazard. https://www.ref.org.uk/ref-blog/365-wind-power-economics-rhetoric-and-reality

Joe B
Reply to  Joe Born
June 9, 2021 2:21 am

Mr. Born,
That is an excellent link and refers to a very important point … the Lazard LCOE presentation.
Any serious student can download the ~18 page pdf and go right to the appendix page where the ‘input’ parameters are listed.
The numbers used to determine the cost of Combined Cycle Gas Plants are blatantly skewed to the upside (more expensive).
This includes cost of fuel, cost/size of plant, 20 year life cycle to name just a few.

June 8, 2021 10:39 am

Decisions about anything are only as good as the information used to support them. The decades long media bias against anything perceived to be a conservative issue doesn’t improve the information many receive and only provides false confidence in the bad information they have.

As I see it, the citizens of Rhode Island, much like those in California, are getting what they deserve for allowing political bias to interfere with common sense and rational thinking. Unfortunately, like the CCP and the China Virus, the green nutjobs pushing these kinds of stupid policy want those of us who know better to suffer along with them.

stewartpid
Reply to  co2isnotevil
June 8, 2021 12:56 pm

The citizens of Rhode Island, much like those in California, are getting what they deserve & getting it good and hard 😉

Shoki Kaneda
Reply to  stewartpid
June 8, 2021 9:08 pm

And in an inappropriate orifice.

Rod Evans
June 8, 2021 10:39 am

I blame the Rhode Island Reds for all this, they are just too chicken to complain!

Peter Muller
Reply to  Rod Evans
June 8, 2021 11:11 am

They should have built them on Barred Rock foundations – ” friendly, sweet, and docile”……..

ResourceGuy
June 8, 2021 10:42 am

Does this mean when severe nor’easters hit wind farms and cause expensive damage that U.S. taxpayers will be hit with the tab like “superstorm” Sandy’s con job? That would make them appear cheap for the developers to offload costs like that.

Pauleta
Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 8, 2021 11:07 am

Put on the climate change damage tab

John
June 8, 2021 10:48 am

Thanks for the nice article. If the installation costs were free, would wind power still be economical? It would be interesting to know how far the technology has to go to make it competitive.

LdB
Reply to  John
June 8, 2021 11:01 am

Well you need the technology that makes the wind blow 24/7 because other than that you need a backup supply something fossil fuels don’t need.

Last edited 3 months ago by LdB
Dmacleo
Reply to  LdB
June 8, 2021 1:03 pm

just apply power TO one windmill it will push wind onto another windmill and generate power. problem solved….

OweninGA
Reply to  Dmacleo
June 8, 2021 1:59 pm

I hope that was in SARC font, because I have heard people of low intelligence seriously suggest something like this.

John Hultquist
Reply to  OweninGA
June 8, 2021 5:44 pm

Poe’s Law.

Dmacleo
Reply to  OweninGA
June 9, 2021 7:08 am

so have I. the ….at end was the telling point

Reply to  LdB
June 11, 2021 11:40 pm

Nuclear too has close to 100% uptime…fir 30 years.

MarkW
Reply to  John
June 8, 2021 12:45 pm

Even if wind and solar were 100%, in both construction and operation, you would still need to build out enough fossil fuel power to support your customers for those times when neither the wind is blowing or the sun shinning.

In other words, even in the absolute best of cases, wind and solar still don’t save you anything.

Climate believer
Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2021 1:05 pm

 “wind and solar still don’t save you anything.”

In fact we end up paying double, unreliables and fossil fuel power, that’s the Green Scam New Deal for you.

Rud Istvan
June 8, 2021 10:51 am

Some years ago, I posted True Cost of Wind over at Judiths. We deconstructed the 2016 EIA ‘levelized cost of electricity’ (LCOE, an annuity based calculation). EIA then said onshore wind was competitive with CCGT, both at about $90/MWh. They got a number of things just blatantly wrong. Turns out CCGT was really ~$58, and onshore wind was $146.

EIA has a new estimate out from 2/1/2021. You can google it using EIA LCOE 2021. It says onshore is now $31 (NOT—for example, the capacity factor is 1.3x high) and offshore wind is $115, about 3.6x higher. So if onshore is really $146, then offshore is $525/MWh—about NINE times higher than CCGT.

Now using WE’s Block Island grid price today of $0.344 versus $0.04, the Block Island offshore wind is 8.6x more expensive now, and will be about10x higher end of the decade. Squares with the above, and again shows how badly Biden’s EIA is still off with their ‘official’ estimates.
Renewables are ruinables.

Doonman
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 8, 2021 2:04 pm

It’s not just Biden. It’s the EU, the UK and Americans inflating the world economy to offset the size of world government debt, so they can borrow more.

Usury energy pricing does this nicely as we have already seen with the “oil crisis” inflation in the 1970’s. It’s a new generation of suckers paying the bills now, and they also are incessantly told they need to “save the earth”. So once again, its the perfect opportunity for politicians to use scare tactics, new taxes and inflation as their fiduciary friend. Does anyone actually think that the world wide push to electrify everything during an oil glut and the ever expanding grid pricing structure at exactly the same time is a coincidence?

You’d think people would have wised up to this already, but perhaps most that had are already dead. But then again, most “woke” young people I’ve met need to put out lawn signs listing their core values for everyone to read. Perhaps they forget them if they aren’t listed on a sign. Strangely, working toward an efficient economy is never among their values listed.

H.R.
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 8, 2021 2:33 pm

Is this the same team that is counting Covid cases and deaths, Rud?

I suppose the Ministry Of Fudged Numbers has it calculated close enough for Government work.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  H.R.
June 8, 2021 2:59 pm

HR, Same government, not same people. EIA claimed Wind and CCGT both having 30 year lives (reality, CCGT>40, wind ~20) is in the same ‘counting’ category as CDC claiming COVID-19 deaths ‘with’ or ‘from’ (reality ‘from’ << ‘with’).

ghl
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 8, 2021 5:46 pm

A lot of the same people.
See

Al Gore and David Blood formed Generation Investment Management in 2004.
GenerationIM web site from March 28 2009
http://web.archive.org/web/20090328131153/http://www.generationim.com/sustainability/challenges/pandemics.html

More:-
http://web.archive.org/web/20091123011347/http://www.generationim.com/media/pdf-generation-thematic-research-v13.pdf

Browse the above pages, follow some links for the full effect. Note the references to Global Warming, water and pandemics.

They run the joint.

They have no conscience.

Rick C
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 8, 2021 3:08 pm

Fortunately for RI residential rate payers, National Grid produces about 90% of their power with natural gas turbines. So the ratepayers pay about $0.21/kwh and not $0.34. Still that means that <10% of the energy that comes from offshore wind results in a substantial increase in costs to consumers.

Joe B
Reply to  Rick C
June 9, 2021 2:32 am

Rick,
Today, June 8, the New England ISO showed about 70% generation came from natgas and 20% came from nuclear.
Interestingly, throughout much of the afternoon, wind and solar provided about 500 Megawatts and OIL and COAL provided a near identical amount.

New England folks are at a knife’s edge vis a vis electricity supply during the coming winters if extended (+/- 5day) cold snaps hit.

Last edited 3 months ago by Joe B
ghl
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 8, 2021 5:41 pm

I recently saw a report that Biden has anounced a plan to invest pension funds in renewables. What could go wrong?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 9, 2021 4:21 am

“Renewables are ruinables.”

Yes, they will ruin our economy and our society.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 9, 2021 8:14 am

Mr. Istvan,

How did the incredible effect of salt-water corrosion factor into your calcs?

In 1981 I started my first job out of school, Special Projects engineer with the old Gulf States Utilities in Beaumont, TX. We had a small 25Kw wind turbine at Sabine Pass, supposedly one of the ideal on-shore sites in the USA, right on the Gulf Coast beach. We got a capacity factor of 25%. Poor thing did not last long either, the relentless salt spray just is hard on metals in general…

SMS
Reply to  Rud Istvan
June 9, 2021 10:50 am

It’s been awhile, but I once read that if you discount any taxes imposed on fossil fuel power production, the cost of energy is only one cent per KW. Like wise, if you discount the subsidies that renewables receive and then add in the cost of building the infrastructure; the cost rises will significantly more inline with what this article would suggest.

Someone should have more updated numbers.

June 8, 2021 10:53 am

I once sailed around Long Island. What a shame …

Fred Harwood
June 8, 2021 10:55 am

I remember the first Block Island wind machine, which after but a few years and unending controversy ended in the town dump. May still be there? Also, one might wonder if that power cable to the mainland would not be better used to bring cheaper power to Block.

Rhee
Reply to  Fred Harwood
June 8, 2021 3:44 pm

What? They didn’t recycle the machines? But that’s what TPTB have been spewing for years, that every part of the turbine mechanism can recycled and repurposed for new ones at EOL.
Or they may have been lying.

Reply to  Sommer
June 9, 2021 8:06 am

If one buries a glass-fiber/epoxy composite wind turbine blade underground, and dig it back up 500 years later, it will look just the same unless there has been some water cycling through, which will etch the epoxy. The glass fiber will just lay there until Kingdom come….

Kevin kilty
June 8, 2021 10:57 am

Yo ho ho, the wind is free,
Oh for a life on a subsidy…

Another great post, Willis.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 8, 2021 1:07 pm

“They polished up the RET so carefully,
That soon they were raking in a sub-si-dy.”

Apologies to G&S.

Ron Long
June 8, 2021 10:58 am

Good report, Willis. These offshore wind turbines are commonly serviced by helicopter, so add in some unusual costs to the O and A costs. The offshore wind turbines chop up our flying friends about like the land-based choppers, where’s the outcry? Previously a report said that oil companies killed and maimed dolphins and turtles in order to get cheaper disassembly of de-commissioned platforms, what about the flying friends?

Joseph Zorzin
June 8, 2021 11:00 am

In MA, NOBODY wants onshore turbines and the resistance to solar “farms” is building fast. Everyone was for both until they see them – especially if built next to THEIR home. Yet, the state of MA now has a net zero by ’50 law on the books. I’m now seeing articles in the state’s MSM by enviros bitching about solar “farms” every day- but all they can say is, “there is a need to site them better” without saying what the hell they mean by that. One type of landowner in MA that likes solar “farms” is big landowners- farmers and forest industry because the profits are far greater than they can make growing food or wood. When one of the first big solar “farms” were built next to my ‘hood in ’12- and I ranted about it to everyone that matters- state officials, enviro groups, forestry people, academics- nobody cared- now they seem to care, but none so far are saying we don’t need these monstrosities- since the AGW religion is all powerful here.

wadesworld
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 8, 2021 11:19 am

To be fair, nobody wants a nuclear plant, coal, or natural gas plant next to their house either.

The difference of course is with wind and solar, it’s not just one plant. There’s going to have to be a lot of it spread everywhere.

Reply to  wadesworld
June 8, 2021 11:30 am

There’s a type of self limiting fission reactor I would have no problems with being in my back yard. It depends on laminar flows to maintain critical mass and if it gets too hot, the flows become chaotic and the fission stops. Much like what’s used on some naval vessels.

The Dark Lord
Reply to  wadesworld
June 8, 2021 12:34 pm

thats why they don’t build them in your backyard … but 50 wind turbines built 10 miles away can still be an eyesore …

MarkW
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 8, 2021 12:48 pm

A liberal saying “site them better”, is a lot like a liberal demanding more taxes.
In both cases the liberal wants someone else to bear the burden.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2021 1:13 pm

Just today I got an email from the policy honcho of MA Audubon saying Audubon is going work on the siting problem, initially on Cape Cod: https://capecodclimate.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Forests-vs.-Solar-A-False-Choice-RESOURCES-COMPENDIUM-1.pdf

They can’t get it through their thick skulls- that, on the one hand, they want the state to be net free by ’50, now in state law- but now that so many people are complaining, they think they can find a way to “site better” solar. But no less than the state’s recently fired “climate czar” said that even if the max out on wind turbines off the coast of the state (not much territory)- and if they cover every roof in the state, that we’ll still need tens of thousands of acres of “ground mounted solar”. All the easy sites are already taken with something like 7,000 acres of forest having been converted to solar along with some fields, some old land fills, a few parking lots but mostly forests. The state is fairly wealthy- the wealthy areas aren’t going to want solar farms near them. So far, the heaviest concentration seems to be in central MA, mostly forests and relatively low income with people who think a landowner should be able to do anything they like with their land. The bottom line is that there just isn’t enough land in the state for solar to get to net free nirvana- and, the public here really hates nuclear so that ain’t gonna happen. I guess we’ll all just have to get used to going back to the dark ages. Nearby Connecticut and Rhode Island follow the lead of MA so all of southern New England will be having the same problem- ideal goals with no way to get there- and of course, those ideals are false.

Rhee
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
June 8, 2021 3:48 pm

One supposes the state can simply find all that acreage for solar farms by leveling all the residential housing and utilizing those empty lots for PV panels.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
June 8, 2021 6:47 pm

NIMBY!

Meisha
June 8, 2021 11:05 am

Heaven forfend an electric utility should make an “excess” profit. What the he!! is an “excess” profit? And who determines that and how? However calculated, $46M (their claimed excess profits) is ~10% of the $464M investment, if I read it right). Yeah, that’s what’s REALLY driving up the cost of energy in Rhode Island. Idiots.

MarkW
Reply to  Meisha
June 8, 2021 12:50 pm

When a utility becomes a regulated monopoly, the government states how much profit the utility is allowed to earn.

garboard
June 8, 2021 11:06 am

I’ve sailed past the turbines several times ( on the way to or from Bermuda solo ) and usually one or two appear to be out of commission . I was told they’ve had trouble with oil leakage .

Rhee
Reply to  garboard
June 8, 2021 3:52 pm

Living in California, we get to see lots of turbine farms in the mountain passes leading to the desert, and every time I drive by it seems about 1/4 of the turbines are stopped.
In addition, whenever we drive to Las Vegas we pass by Ivanpah power station, the one with thousands of mirrors aimed at one of three towers, and invariably one of the towers is out of service. Once I saw two out of service on a cloudless day. What a waste.

Joe B
Reply to  Rhee
June 9, 2021 2:40 am

Rhee,
Little known fact about ivanpah …
It uses a gas fired boiler to keep the water warm overnight.
So much gas needs to be burned to keep the water temperature up, in fact, that this site passes the threshold as being some type of ‘pollution source’.

Ossqss
June 8, 2021 11:10 am

But, will it save the climate?

An oldie, not permitted to be discussed any longer with respect to large scale wind farms.

Wind resistance | MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

ralfellis
June 8, 2021 11:51 am

I think things are worse in Britain.

Electric distribution companies are forced to take wind power first, shutting down coal and gas plants if there is too much energy. This means coal plants can only run 15% of the time, which is not sustainable for any private company.

Worse still, if there is too much wind power, the wind farms are paid double to NOT generate. Paid an exorbitant amount for working, and then paid twice that for not working.

Hence the deliberate scam up in Scotland. There is a bottle-neck of transmission lines running south into England, and so they are building wind farms like crazy up in Scotland, because they get paid double for not generating (due to the bottle-neck). And we pay for the scam in our electric bills.

Ralph

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  ralfellis
June 9, 2021 9:30 am

It’s a bit more complicated. With the Grid so keen on securing records the first thing they aim for is maximising exports as much as they can, even at negative prices. GB consumers pay to subsidise these exports because they get lumped with the bill for Renewables Obligation Certificates worth over £50/MWh each (and offshore wind gets paid anything up to 3.5 ROCs per MWh – the Hywind floating offshore project), or the applicable CFD subsidy.

After that, curtailment comes in two flavours. If there’s just too much wind, then they look for bids to compensate for the loss of income, and this can be driven by a cheapest to curtail algorithm, with the price set by the marginal curtailed wind farm. When there are grid constraints meaning that the power simply can’t be delivered to customers through lack of transmission capacity, then only specific farms have to curtail, and with less competition, the payments can work out a lot higher.

The really crazy bit is that the most heavily subsidised wind farms have no incentive to curtail at all. If is the least subsidised that will find it more profitable to curtail. The only exception to this is when there is a continuous period of six hours or more of negative prices. Only then are CFD subsidy payments halted, and those expensive wind farms have no incentive to produce. The ROC subsidies are not halted during such periods.

G A Keen
June 8, 2021 11:55 am

Thank you for another interesting post , Willis . What I don’t see in Willis’ analysis is the commonly overlooked not inconsiderable hidden cost of making wind (and solar) despatchable for the consumer . The utility has to add that in along the line (ie backup systems), making the true cost of wind and solar even greater .

On the outer Barcoo
June 8, 2021 11:57 am

There’s probably something here akin to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle that’s just begging for a Nobel prize.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  On the outer Barcoo
June 8, 2021 3:48 pm

I’m not sure about that

June 8, 2021 12:19 pm

Again, Willis gives us a seriously flawed analysis. He asks, “How much is that energy worth?” then proceeds to compare the price to “the nationwide average purchase cost for a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity is around 4 cents.”
.
What Mr. Eschenbach neglects to mention is that prior to Block Island getting the power from wind turbines, it was powered by diesel generators burning up to a million gallons of fuel per year. Burning all that diesel resulted in the electricity consumers on Block Island paying $0.50 per kilowatt hour.
.
As Willis writes: “so in ten years it will be 34.4 cents/kWh.” which will still be less expensive than what they were paying before the wind farm was installed.
.
https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/block-island-wind/

Last edited 3 months ago by nicholas tesdorf
The Dark Lord
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 12:36 pm

they don’t just sell the electricity to Block island you silly person …

TonyL
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 8, 2021 1:08 pm

“Nicholas is doing his utmost to stand on his tiptoes in a failed effort to try to bite my ankles”

SCORE – Quote Of The Day.

Reply to  TonyL
June 8, 2021 1:42 pm

Ask Willis about “5154”

A single counterexample proves him wrong

Last edited 3 months ago by nicholas tesdorf
MarkW
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 2:40 pm

So when are you going to come up with that single counter example?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 8, 2021 1:18 pm

You forget that $$$ always trumps NIMBY. Once the first takes root, Cape Wind gets to proceed.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 1:28 pm

PS Willis, people in RI, CT and MA don’t care much about the price of electricity, because it’s a minuscule part of their budgets.
.
Keep on blogging for the folks in flyover country, and stay out of the politics.
.
You would know these sort of things if you visited the East Coast.
.
Like DJT cares about the price of a kilowatt hour in Trump Tower LMAO

Last edited 3 months ago by nicholas tesdorf
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 2:25 pm

Willis fails to account for the fact that the 440 “households” does not account for the summer tourist season on the island where electric consumption dramatically increases.

MarkW
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 2:43 pm

Are you claiming that the population increases by a factor of 40 over the summer?

saveenergy
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 9, 2021 12:20 am

Call me crazy”

Yes you are !!
In your reply you use 97 words where just two would do-

‘Nicholas fails’.

Last edited 3 months ago by saveenergy
MarkW
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 2:42 pm

Nick actually believes that everyone is rich. Either that or like most liberals, he doesn’t care how much the poor and middle class have to suffer. So long as he gets to feel self righteous.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 8, 2021 9:35 pm

Let them eat cake?

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 8:11 pm

All goods and services require electricity. Higher costs = higher prices for everyone.

MarkW
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 2:41 pm

Who’s money are you planning on spending?

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 8, 2021 1:41 pm

You ought to go to the ER and get some bandages for those ankles since your  “Willis’s Rule Of Authors”, got obliterated.

The Dark Lord
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 12:49 pm

there are 1,000 residents on Block Island … so about 500 homes at best … are you claiming that each home burned 5.4 gallons of diesel for electricity per day 365 ? 1 million gallons translates to about 11 million kwh of electricity … which means Block Island residents use about 62 kwh per day 365 … which is over twice the national average … I don’t think so …

Reply to  The Dark Lord
June 8, 2021 1:23 pm

I see you’ve never visited Block Island. The folks there are not poor, so twice the national average sounds about right.

MarkW
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 2:44 pm

So why are the rest of us being forced to subsidize their electricity?

MarkW
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
June 8, 2021 12:52 pm

Beyond what the Dark Lord said, they now have a cable to the mainland, so they don’t need the diesel power either.

Steve Z
June 8, 2021 12:21 pm

So, if the construction cost of the five turbines near Block Island was $350 million, that’s $70 million per turbine. If the Biden administration wants 2,000 “turbines in the water” in the next eight and a half years (by 2030), they would cost about $140 billion, not counting the underwater transmission cable. .

[QUOTE FROM ARTICLE]”Then you have to add in “O&M”, operation and maintenance costs, which are about $48,000 per megawatt per year for offshore wind, or about $290,000 per year at Block Island.”[END QUOTE]

If the O&M costs are $290,000 per year or $48,000 per MW per year, that would mean that the five turbines produce an average of 290 / 48 = 6.04 MW, or about 1.21 MW per turbine, or roughly 20% of their rated capacity.  Over a 365-day (8,760 hr) year, that would work out to about 52.9 million kWh per year (not 92 kWh million as written in the article).

Of course, the clueless New York Times believes that “The cost of offshore wind turbines has fallen about 80 percent over the last two decades, to as low as $50 a megawatt-hour.”.

The O&M costs alone are $290,000 / 52.9 million = 0.548 cents per kWh. If we amortize $350 million in construction costs plus $114 million for the cable ($464 million total) over 10 years ($46.4 million per year), dividing by 52.9 million kWh/yr comes out to a cost of 87.7 cents per kWh ($877 per MWh), or over 17 times the cost estimate from the New York Times. Even if the turbines can produce 92 million kWh per year, the amortized cost would be 50.4 cents per kWh ($504 per MWh), or more than 10 times the New York Times estimate.

Is it any wonder that very few people believe “the paper of record” anymore?

There may be another wrinkle to this story. Although the power is sold to the state of Rhode Island, Block Island is officially part of New York State. Depending on where the turbines are located relative to the underwater state border, the transmission of electricity from the turbines to Rhode Island may be considered interstate commerce, and therefore regulated by the Federal government, not Rhode Island state law.

Reply to  Steve Z
June 8, 2021 12:43 pm

 Block Island is officially part of New York State”
.
WRONG….first sentence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Block_Island

Joe B
Reply to  Steve Z
June 9, 2021 2:54 am

Steve,
The Empire and Sunrise offshore projects off New York State will have about 1,700 Mw nameplate which (using Orsted’s own 48% capacity factor) gives us under 850 Megawatts electricity.
The fact that the bulk of generation – by far – comes in the off peak nighttime hours in the low demand spring/autumn seasons is a true, yet seldom mentioned aspect.
Estimated cost to NYS ratepayers ranges from $8 to $10 BILLION (!!).

For comparison, the just opened Cricket Valley CCGP reliably puts out ~1,100 Mw on demand, 24/7/365, and costs ratepayers NOTHING as it was privately financed.

The Dark Lord
June 8, 2021 12:28 pm

since the “greens” definition of renewable (that they apply to coal and oil) is that it will never run out then windmills are also not renewable … the materials needed to build them are finite and thus limited …

Joe B
Reply to  The Dark Lord
June 9, 2021 2:56 am

DL,
Onshore wind farms only last about 20 years, as well.

TonyL
June 8, 2021 12:48 pm

Nice takedown. Willis fails to mention the driving factor – RGGI.
RGGI is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. A consortium of several states in New England and the NE US. Rhode Island and the Block Island windfarm are both part and parcel of RGGI.

Willis seems puzzled that 32 cents/kWh is Cheaper than 8 cents/kWh.
Normally, one would agree that 8 cents/kWh is cheaper than 32 cents/kWh, but that is not what is going on here.
You just have to understand how Cheaper works in RGGI-Land. I shall elucidate.
The original RGGI proposal for Block Island was for power at 45 cents/kWh. This was nosebleed levels even for the PUCs involved. (PUC = Public Utilities Commission)
A plan was drafted. Using taxpayer subsidies, the selling price could be lowered from 45 cents/kWh down to 32 cents/kWh. Therefor 32 cents/kWh was the Cheaper option. Obviously the PUCs would not buy the more expensive plan, they sold the Cheaper plan to the ratepayers.

Some taxpayers questioned the savings. They noted that as they paid both taxes and electric utility bills, they were on the hook for the whole amount.
The response from the PUCs was short, direct, and to the point:
“Shut Up”, they explained.
Then it was administratively determined that 32 cents/kWh is Cheaper than any other option. The mainstream media in RGGI-Land is now full of stories about wind power is the Cheaper option.

And this is how 32 cents/kWh became Cheaper than 8 cents/kWh.

Honestly, I wish I was making all this up, but the truth is that this is exactly how Cape Wind, Nantucket Sound and Block Island were sold to the public in RGGI-Land.
As near as I can tell, there is some significant fraction of the populace who actually believe all this.

Doonman
Reply to  TonyL
June 8, 2021 4:50 pm

How does a “consortium of several states” operate the RGGI?

The webpage says:

“The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia to cap and reduce power sector CO2 emissions.

RGGI is the first mandatory, market-based CO2 emissions reduction program in the United States. Within the RGGI states, fossil-fuel-fired electric power generators with a capacity of 25 megawatts* or greater (“regulated sources”) are required to hold allowances equal to their CO2 emissions over a three-year control period.”

“Required” and “mandatory” sounds like “Force of Law” to me. That must mean that an agreement between the states was made as I seriously doubt that all the states came up with the same idea at the same time independently.

Of course, the US Constitution per article I Section 10 prohibits agreements between states, unless congress consents to such an agreement.

If someone could point me to the Federal legislation that permitted the RGGI, I would appreciate it. I cannot find it in a search of the Federal Register and it isn’t cited anywhere in the RGGI webpages.

TonyL
Reply to  Doonman
June 8, 2021 5:40 pm

Good find.

I cannot resist.
RGGI is the first mandatory, market-based CO2 emissions reduction program in the United States.

Don’t you just love how they use “mandatory” and “market based” in the same sentence?

Peta of Newark
June 8, 2021 12:52 pm

What grates here is that these things are referred to as ‘Infrastructure’

Didn’t we just have a story about some onshore turbines being blown up (down?) – that were of 2004 vintage at best?
I think that pretty well fits with the general rule of thumb that their output drops to 50% of new after 15 years – do we say 15 years of life then 4 or 5 of dithering about what to do with them.
Can anyone seriously see offshore turbines lasting that long, in which case, how can anyone claim that such ephemeral things are ‘Infrastructure’

Good grief, many of us have gotten or seen 15+ years of life out of a bog-standard car and they have built-in obsolescence!!
And here in England, we’re still driving around on roads, set onto on foundations laid by The Romans over 2,000 years ago.
That’s ‘Infrastructure’ – these things are children toys

Last edited 3 months ago by Peta of Newark
Joe B
Reply to  Peta of Newark
June 9, 2021 2:59 am

Peta,
Standard rate of operational decline of an onshore turbine is 1.6% per year.

dgp
June 8, 2021 1:20 pm

I have never seen any study or even conjecture on the consequences of removing the energy from wind through the extensive use of wind turbines. I’m curious as to what those could be. It’s not free energy, you’re taking it from something.

Last edited 3 months ago by dgp
Reply to  dgp
June 9, 2021 7:32 am

No, no problem here, same as friction and turbulence cause by trees…

June 8, 2021 1:42 pm

Red skies at night, sailors’ delight.
Red skies in morning, sailors take warning.
These red skies are cost overruns masking lies and deceit.
And what of the oceanic pelagics, mammals and migratory terrapins?
Blue water sailors know scuttlebutt when we hear it…

Philip
June 8, 2021 1:47 pm

Looks from this description as though the big problem is greed and corruption. If that were removed, this might not be toooo bad a proposition. Certainly not the best and/or most economical way to generate electricity, but nowhere near the disaster it currently seems to be.

Derg
Reply to  Philip
June 8, 2021 7:43 pm

Welcome to climate scams.

Andrew Dickens
June 8, 2021 1:49 pm

I read an analysis of the cost of offshore wind in the UK that demonstrated credibly that electricity generated by offshore wind costs 18x that generated by CCGT.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Andrew Dickens
June 8, 2021 2:11 pm

Dunno. My own estimate posted upthread is ‘only’ 9x. But my estimate did not include backup since was based on ERCOT at 10 percent penetration in 2016. Backup might easily double UK wind, since penetration is higher and the CCGT investment is only used about 70% of the time UK onshore wind had a 28% capacity factor last I checked.

markl
June 8, 2021 2:01 pm

Keep telling a lie long enough………..

rovingbroker
June 8, 2021 2:31 pm

Re: Ørsted …

One Oil Company’s Rocky Path to Renewable Energy

Ørsted spent years transitioning away from oil and gas. Now, it is the world’s largest developer of offshore wind energy. The pivot holds lessons for major oil producers targeting solar and wind power.

Ørsted’s breakthrough came when it won three U.K. projects in 2014. While many competitors thought the subsidies on offer weren’t attractive enough, the company was convinced greater volume would reduce costs. All three have been profitable. It is helped by a government-guaranteed electricity price of £140, or about $198, per megawatt-hour for 15 years, more than double U.K. electricity prices in recent years.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/one-oil-companys-rocky-path-to-renewable-energy-orsted-11623170953?

c1ue
June 8, 2021 2:31 pm

Willis,
Have you looked at NREL and other government/NGO data sets which supposedly show such low LCOE for solar PV and wind?
Every single project I’ve ever looked at – the costs were like what you note above yet the official orgs all show wind and solar PV being “competitive”.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  c1ue
June 8, 2021 3:04 pm

Not Willis, but I have. Extensively. NREL is WORSE than EIA. One wind example given in CE guest post True Cost of Wind. Another given in CE guest post Grid Solar. Deliberate fabrications, not excused by simple ignorance.

Robber
June 8, 2021 2:51 pm

There are other costs to be factored into the cost of electricity from windmills.
Firstly, with a nameplate capacity of 30 MW, the Block Island cable and the network must be able to accept nearly 30 MW supply from this source regardless of demand, despite an average genertion of just 10 MW, so other generators must reduce generation. Then when the wind doesn’t blow, there must be 100% backup available from dispatchable generators (gas or hydro) to keep the lights on. So the overall costs must include the Block Island costs plus the cost of the backups.

dk_
June 8, 2021 3:00 pm

Good post Willis.
On a tech news announcement site, we have this monstrosity, proposed for Norway:

comment image

Designer/promoter company website link. Said to be more than 324M high!

I can’t stop laughng at it long enough to compose a “10 worst idea” reason list. But just imagine the shark fishing downwind, a seabird chum master!

Last edited 3 months ago by dk_
June 8, 2021 4:02 pm

global warming is fake

BobM
Reply to  dave bowen
June 8, 2021 4:45 pm

Global warming Disaster is fake. Global warming since the end of the Little Ice Age is great.

Derg
Reply to  BobM
June 8, 2021 7:45 pm

And the plants love the CO2

Frank from NoVA
June 8, 2021 4:22 pm

RI rate payers? Screw ’em. Progressive voters vote for progressive politicians. Progressive politicians appoint progressive public utility commissioners. Progressive politicians and public utility commissioners mandate unreliable and uneconomic renewables. For its part, National Grid is just following the path of least resistance to recover costs and maximize return on rate base. At some point customers’ bills become too high, at which point NG will be forced to cut back on O&M and investing in T&D to keep rates affordable. And then the whole system collapses.

Derg
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 8, 2021 7:46 pm

Agreed Willis. I have no idea how to stop these climate hucksters but this tax is very unfair.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 9, 2021 7:10 am

Willis,

I greatly admire, respect and appreciate your efforts on WUWT to bring science to bear on the broad subject of climate. As someone who eschews the initiation of force or coercion in any sphere beyond what is needed to ensure private or public safety, I can ensure you that my use of the term “screw ’em” was not intended to imply the physical or economic harming of any person or group, and in agreement with your admonition, was ill advised. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any commensurate hesitation to initiate force against, or bring economic harm to, the public on the part of the progressive left. Hence my frustration with the good people (not “poor schlubs”) of RI, who habitually re-elect science and economic illiterates such as Sheldon Whitehouse to the US Senate. And that’s an issue, because while the good people of RI are free to impose any costs they wish upon themselves at the local level, it turns out that a state that is smaller than the King Ranch in Texas, is acting to impose similar costs on the rest of us.

Sunshine
June 8, 2021 5:01 pm

A MUST READ: I’m reading this analysis of a recent Mark Carney’s Zoom call. It’s truly frightening.

Excerpt:

“The agenda’s objectives are in fact already being enforced, not primarily by legislation but by the application of non-governmental — that is, non-democratic — pressure on the corporate sector via the ever-expanding dictates of ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and by “sustainable finance,” which is designed to starve non-compliant companies of funds, thus rendering them, as Carney puts it, “climate roadkill.” What ESG actually represents is corporate ideological compulsion. It is a key instrument of “stakeholder capitalism.”

…Carney also commends the knowledge and wisdom of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg: “The power of Greta Thunberg’s message lies in the way she drives home both the cold logic of climate physics and the fundamental unfairness of the climate crisis.”

https://share.postmedia.com/mQlCscI

Roger Knights
June 8, 2021 5:27 pm

This should be reprinted in the WSJ.

John
June 8, 2021 5:52 pm

Wind farms off California – not likely
the Sierra Club would allow it
also the geography is not so good massive canyons and extremely deep water
add to that the difficulty of getting cables from the beach to the wind turbines
just another crazy California idea to follow the Concentrated Solar power station that blinded the train drivers and the solar panels etc
good luck

Joe B
Reply to  John
June 9, 2021 3:11 am

John,
Not likely?
In a state that is spending tens of billions to enable high speed rail from downtown Fresno to the outskirts of Merced?

What’s that saying about never under estimating the power of stoopid?

(I believe the location is something like 40 miles of Morro Bay in water over 1,000 feet deep. Anyone … say again ANYONE spending more than 60 seconds listening to this horse shit needs their head examined.)

PCman999
Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 8, 2021 10:12 pm

I really appreciate your work Willis, and I’m sorry you have to put up with mental-chihuahuas like ankle-biter Tesdorf. I’ve learned so much from your posts and comments, not just the science, but more importantly how to think logically and work methodically on analyzing an issue. Thank you.

Reply to  Willis Eschenbach
June 9, 2021 12:54 pm

Well that explains why you will never get beyond “amateur” status as a scientists. You don’t keep up with the articles published by your colleagues?

You get caught with 5154 and make a lame excuse.

You think your rebuttal post to Dr. Spencer is adequate? No wonder you can’t find a reputable journal, your work is sloppy because you don’t have the time to study prior work. Hey, you can always find a vanity journal to publish your thunderstorm thing.

Shawn Marshall
June 9, 2021 4:58 am

Gubmint destroys everything it controls – why? – impervious to outside forces such as markets, real science, economics, voters – so Lysenkoism is a natural result of governance that mandates rather than serves. The root problem isn’t windmills – it’s windbags.

Joseph Campbell
Reply to  Shawn Marshall
June 9, 2021 8:12 am

Shawn: Beautiful: “The root problem isn’t windmills – it’s windbags.”…

willem post
June 9, 2021 7:25 am

Here is an excerpt of an article regarding FLOATING wind turbines, such as off the coast of Maine, and off the cost of California.

The capital cost would be off-the charts expensive, $/MW,, plus the anchoring cables would greatly REDUCE commercial fishing in these areas.

Prices paid by UTILITIES to the owners of these plants would be at least 25 c/kWh, AFTER THE BENEFIT OF ALL SUBSIDIES.

That compares with an average wholesale price of about 5 c/kWh for nuclear, fossil and hydro.

Pro RE folks always point to the “price paid to owner” as the cost of wind and solar, purposely ignoring the other cost categories.
https://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/high-costs-of-wind-solar-and-battery-systems

The all-in cost of wind and solar, c/kWh, includes:

1) Above-market-price paid to owners 
2) Subsidies paid to owners
3) Owner return on invested capital
4) Grid extension/augmentation (not paid by owners)
5) Grid support services (not paid by owners) 
6) Future battery systems (not paid by owners)

Of course, the Biden “RE/GW visionaries” do not have the slightest inkling of those costs, and if some of them do, whey would NEVER mention it.

Excerpt:

DEEP-WATER FLOATING OFFSHORE WIND TURBINES IN MAINE
http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/deep-water-floating-offshore-wind-turbines-in-maine

The Norwegians have about 60 years of experience building and servicing oil/gas rigs and laying undersea electric cables, gas lines and oil lines all over the world.
 
They have invested billions of dollars in specialized deep-water, Norwegian harbors and facilities for assembly of oil/gas rigs and invested in specialized sea-going heavy lifters, and specialized sea-going tugboats to tow the oil/gas rigs from Norwegian building sites to oil/gas production sites. The heavy lifters and other ships perform services all over the world.
 
Norway companies want to expand their business by building and servicing and providing spare parts for floating wind turbines for deep-water conditions all over the world

NOTE: Norwegians advocating expensive floating wind turbines that depend on the randomness of wind and produce high-cost, variable, intermittent electricity for other people, such as Jane and Joe Worker/Ratepayer, is highly hypocritical, because the Norwegians get 98% of their electricity from their own hydro plants, which produce low-cost, steady electricity (not variable, not intermittent). The Danes advocating wind turbines and boasting about their high percent of wind on their grid is similarly hypocritical, because the Danes have been increasingly using the storage reservoirs of Norway’s hydro plants for decades.
 
First Experimental Floating Wind Turbine in Norway
 
Equinor (formerly Statoil, a Norwegian government controlled company) launched the world’s first operational deep-water, floating large-capacity wind turbine in 2009. The turbine trade name is “Hywind”.
 
The wind turbine consists of a 120 m (390 ft) tall tower, above the sea water level, and a 60 m (195 ft) submerged extension below the sea water level, with a heavy weight at the bottom to keep the wind turbine steady and upright, even with very high waves and strong wind conditions. The design was tested and perfected under storm and wind conditions simulated in a laboratory.

The 2.3 MW wind turbine is mounted on top of the tower. It was fully assembled in a deep-water harbor near Stavanger, Norway.
 
It was towed to a site 10 km (6.2 mi) offshore into the Amoy Fjord in 220 m (720 ft) deep water, near Stavanger, Norway, on 9 June 2009, for a two-year test run, which turned out to be successful.
 
First Commercial Floating Wind Turbine Plant in Scotland
 
Hywind Scotland project is the world’s first commercial wind turbine plant using floating wind turbines.
 
It is located 29 km (EIGHTEEN MILES) off PeterheadScotland to minimize visual impacts from shore.
It has five Hywind floating turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW.
It is operated by Hywind (Scotland) Limited, a joint venture of Equinor, Norway (75%) and Masdar, Kuwait (25%).
 
In 2015, Equinor received permission to install 5 Hywind turbines in Scotland.  
 
Manufacturing started in 2016 in Spain (wind turbine, rotor), Norway (tower, underwater base, assembly), and Scotland (various parts)
The turnkey capital cost was $263 million for five 6 MW turbines, or $8,767/kW.
They were designed to float on the surface, with about 180 m (600 ft) above the sea water level and 80 m (265 ft) submerged below the seawater level. 
Total steel weight is about 2300 metric ton, total ballasted weight is about 20,000 metric ton.
Heavy weights in the bottom of the submerged parts serve to keep them steady and upright.
 
The turbines were assembled at Stord in Norway in the summer of 2017, using the specialized Saipem 7000 floating crane, and then towed to the north of Scotland by sea-going tugboats.
Make sure to see the videos showing the crane assembling the entire wind turbine.
Nothing like that exists in Maine, or in the rest of New England.
That means offshore wind turbine assembly and servicing would largely be performed by foreign companies, which already have built the infrastructures and other facilities during the past 25 years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUlfvXaISvc



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQVU7UaMuck

The huge, sea-going, specialized, crane (14,000-metric ton lifting capacity) is required for partial assembly on land and final assembly in an area close to shore with a very deep harbor, before towing, fully assembled, to the site.
 
The finished turbines were towed to Peterhead, Scotland.  
Three  cup anchors hold each turbine in place.
About 2400 meter of chain is required, weighing 400 metric ton, for each turbine.
The Hywind Scotland project was commissioned in October 2017.
 
Hywind Wind Turbines for Demonstration Purposes in Maine
 
Hannah Pingree and other Maine’s wind bureaucrats in state government are engaging in mindless prattle, eager to do the bidding of various multi-millionaires and foreign companies that may be providing some wining/dining boondoggle trips to “view the Hywind turbines” in Norway and Scotland.
 
The turnkey cost of those two Hywind turbines would be about $10,000 per kW, versus NE ridgeline wind at $2,000/kW, and regular offshore, south of Martha’s Vineyard, at $4,000/kW.
http://www.windtaskforce.org/profiles/blogs/iso-ne-study-of-1600-mw-of-future-offshore-wind-during-a-16-day
 
That would be at about $120 million for a two 6 MW Hywind wind turbines, plus whatever facilities would need to be built in Maine to support the project.
 
The turnkey capital cost of the wind turbine plant in Maine would be much higher, because Maine does not have the experience of the Norwegians and the specialized equipment and specialized ships, and other facilities. It would be very costly to build those facilities and ships in Maine, or elsewhere.

Mark D
June 9, 2021 8:06 am

Boat: a hole in the water, into which you throw money.

Wind turbine: a hole in the air, into which you throw other people’s money.

I learned the hard way how much money you can throw into the hole of a 46′ sailboat.

Neo
June 9, 2021 8:26 am

Officials recently approved a project near Martha’s Vineyard that languished during the Trump administration …

Are they referring to that project that Ted Kennedy (died Aug-2009) blocked for years.

Jeffery P
June 9, 2021 9:07 am

Why is free energy from the sun and wind so darn expensive?

whsmith
June 9, 2021 12:26 pm

Offshore wind is touted as a solution to onshore wind deficits, but it falls far short.
The article by Lesser: https://www.manhattan-institute.org/dismal-economics-offshore-wind-energy, provides ALL references to the data therein. I have recently done much the same analysis for Germany with similar results, based on real contracts and actual data, not whimsy.
Quoting the article, and references therein: the contractual cost of Block Island electricity (the 1/3 of the time it is available) is $245/MWh at the wholesale level. The 2019 wholesale cost of electricity in that market is less than $30/MWh, so the contractual wholesale cost is EIGHT times the prevailing cost of wholesale electricity. The cost escalator is 3.5% annually which is exponential growth resulting in a doubling of the cost of electricity in the 20-year contract life to $490/MWh.
An observed fact, noted by Lesser, is that offshore wind turbines last 10-12 years, not the projected 20-25 years, as shown by publicly available Danish offshore wind farm data. This means that the offshore wind turbines will require ‘repowering’ , i.e. replacement of all moving parts, and possibly, towers and transmission cables in a decade. Those costs are NOT included in the contract, and will be ‘extra’ for the impoverished RI consumer (and later, MA, MD, VA,etc.).

Concerning bird and bat kills, that problem is nascent, NOT solved. IF offshore wind is built as the current administration plans, the situation becomes grave.The bird flyways in the USA (attached graphic) are DIRECTLY through the wind turbine farms which now reach out and up to COVER the entire flyways. It will become a slaughter. The same is true of Europe.

Advocates, however, will ignore the data and NEVER do their own research since the truth is too awful to contemplate!

wind turbine and bird-bat-insect deaths.png
Jim Turner
June 9, 2021 1:13 pm

I recall that many years ago it was rumoured that the Royal Air Force was blocking offshore wind installations in the UK because the turbines caused massive amounts of ‘noise’ on air defence radars, preventing them seeing Soviet bombers coming in ‘fast and low’ over the North Sea. This article reminded me of this and it turns out that the problem must be real, as a quick internet search revealed that the UK government are now putting money into research into technology to overcome it (https://www.airforce-technology.com/news/uk-seeks-to-reduce-wind-farms-impact-on-air-defence-radar-system/). Interesting that they have put the windfarms in place first and are trying to mitigate the problem afterwards.

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