A recent article at OilPrice.com explains how wind power is unprofitable, going into detail on some of the economic hurdles that industrial wind power development has encountered. Supply chain problems, inflation, likely the high price of fossil fuels, and other issues have resulted in billions of dollars in losses. Despite this, wind power companies are unconcerned about going bankrupt, due primarily to the fact that governments are mandating that increasing numbers of wind turbines be added to the electric grid pursuit of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions policies, complete with generous subsidies.
The author of the OilPrice.com article, “Wind Power Has A Profitability Problem,” Felicity Bradstock, points out that despite massive investments and mandated construction by governments leading to growth in the wind power industry, “companies are realizing that it is difficult to translate wind power into profits.” Bradstock says the return on investment has not been what companies expected, writing:
In June last year, there were reports that some of the world’s biggest wind energy companies were battling heavy losses. Vestas Wind Systems, General Electric Co., and Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy all faced extremely high raw material and logistics costs following the pandemic when supply chains were disrupted. This came after an arms race in which wind majors were competing to build the tallest, most powerful wind turbines at whatever cost would put them ahead of the rest.
Losses were seen across the board in 2022, to the tune of $2 billion for GE’s renewables division, $1.68 billion for the largest turbine manufacturer Vestas, and Siemens Energy lost $943.48 million.
Apparently, though companies are optimistic, in no small part because governments are requiring the use of their products through renewables mandates, “promising” high demand, and “new grants and subsidies are keeping the wind energy industry’s spirits high, and we can expect more incentives for new wind capacity worldwide as other countries and regions introduce their own climate policies.”
The wind industries’ losses are not all that surprising, given the unreliability of the product itself. In multiple posts, Climate Realism has discussed, here, here, and here, for example, wind power’s failure to provide the promised energy to customers.
Climate alarmists and renewables advocates frequently cite the claim that wind power, or renewables in general, are cheaper than fossil fuels, but the reality is different. The intermittent nature of wind power leads to higher grid operating costs. Additionally, the lifespan of these turbines is a lot less than manufacturers claim. In the case of one of Oregon’s largest wind power facilities, Bigelow Canyon, the turbines break down so often that they only survive for half of their purported lifespans. The facility averages at 27.6 percent of its rated production capacity. Also, when wind turbines aren’t operating, the power must be supplied from elsewhere, most often from fossil fuel powered plants, yet the costs of keeping such plants idled or operating as less than peak levels isn’t charged against the wind facilities, as it should be.
What is clear, is that wind facilities have tremendous upfront capital costs during the construction and installation of the turbines. The OilPrice.com article also confirms that these costs are rising quickly, due to higher materials costs, higher energy costs, supply-chain, and global trade issues.
Despite their tremendous losses, these companies continue to exist, entirely due to intervention by federal and state governments in the form of mandates, tax credits, property tax abatements, subsidies, guaranteed costs pass throughs to ratepayers, and other types of support. As Climate Realism discusses here, “without government subsidies and mandates, wind and solar power would largely be a boutique power supply for the wealthy.”
The public owes news outlets like OilPrice.com a debt of gratitude for reporting on the high costs and limited benefits of wind power. Sadly, most media outlets report on wind power through “rose-colored lenses,” which distort the true costs of wind power. If the technology was really so great, it would be able to compete in the marketplace without continuing government support.
Linnea Lueken is a Research Fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy. While she was an intern with The Heartland Institute in 2018, she co-authored a Heartland Institute Policy Brief “Debunking Four Persistent Myths About Hydraulic Fracturing.”
Don’t forget that the fossil fuel industry is facing ever increasing regulations and federal limitations on conducting business, thus increasing comparative costs of the wind/solar industry.
In the US, wind (and solar) are one major election away from complete collapse. Unfortunately, the same can be said of limited government.
The next US presidential election is shaping up to be a humdinger. The Democrats’ candidate is, it seems, going to be Joe Biden, and the only possible Republican candidate that he has any chance of winning against is Donald Trump. If Donald Trump is the Republican candidate, then the only possible Democrat candidate that he could beat is Joe Biden.
It is so sad that with both parties trying so hard to lose, only one can succeed. Succeed in losing, that is.
‘The Democrats’ candidate is, it seems, going to be Joe Biden, and the only possible Republican candidate that he has any chance of winning against is Donald Trump.‘
I’m so tired of hearing that Trump can’t beat Biden, presumably because college educated suburban wine women and their cucked men think Trump is a meanie. If that’s really the case, we might as well get over the whole idea of living in a Constitutional republic sooner rather than later.
Trump certainly has his faults, the worst being that he got himself rolled by the State. But the upside to that is that he’s now out for retribution.
“Trump certainly has his faults, the worst being that he got himself rolled by the State. But the upside to that is that he’s now out for retribution.”
Yes, Trump does have his faults. Sometimes he does say things that probably aren’t, strictly speaking, true. These are usually trivial things, such as the number of people at his inauguration. In stark contrast nearly everything Biden says is false. And, unlike Trump, these are about extremely important things.
For example, last year, when US inflation was about 10%, Biden stood in front of the cameras and stated that inflation was zero. Nobody blinked an eye. A few days later, Biden stated that, because inflation was nearly unchanged for two consecutive months (at about 10%), inflation wasn’t really a problem. So, according to Biden, if inflation was exactly 10% for every month for ever after, it wouldn’t be a problem.
Compared to the destruction caused by Biden, Trump’s four years look like a golden age in comparison: a relatively peaceful world, low inflation and good growth, lower taxes, the southern borders properly controlled, and of course American energy independence.
For four years the most powerful man in the world was a climate sceptic. I passionately hope that will be true for another four years. If I were an American, you can probably guess who I would vote for!
I’m so tired of hearing that Trump can’t beat Biden
I’m not going to say he can’t win, but it’s a possibility to consider. 2020 was more of a vote against Trump than for Biden (let’s not get into any of the surrounding muck, please, it’s not even a skeleton of a dead horse at this point). I think the key to another Trump vs. Biden will come down to the same, a vote against Biden.
The anti-Trump sentiment needs to be considered, and I think it would result in another close election. There is a good chance Trump will lose. Probably an equally good chance he will win.
The problem I have with 2024, though, is if there is another Republican nominee. I think it quite possible that if Trump isn’t the nominee, he will declare independently. If that happens, whoever the Democrats put up will be sure to win, as Trump will split the Republican vote. Even if he gets a vast majority of it, it will be enough to give the EC to the Democrats.
‘The anti-Trump sentiment needs to be considered, and I think it would result in another close election.’
I can’t disagree, as it’s clear that collectivists of various stripes have successfully permeated many of our institutions. But let’s not kid ourselves, they will fight hard and dirty no matter who the Republicans nominate.
My case for optimism is that Trump didn’t invent ‘MAGA’, but was just picked up by a large swath of voters who were sick of Federal malfeasance and were ignored by other candidates. And now that Trump himself has experienced the true malfeasance of the deep state, I’d be happy to see a rematch with the gloves off.
As for playing ‘spoiler’, I don’t see Trump doing that unless the RNC does to him what the DNC did to Bernie. If that happens, it will just be ‘sayonara’ for what’s left of constitutional government.
I don’t think Biden is going to run. Yep I know what he said, but I think its BS.
Huge majority of Americans think he shouldn’t run. He’ll withdraw his intent. That leaves the democrats the VP, well that would be worse than Biden, that will never happen or a cabinet member…Clinton wants to run, but don’t think it will happen……
Another name I’ve heard is Michelle Obama, is she a possibility?.
If Biden doesn’t run, the most likely possibility to me appears to be Newsome.
Any price paid for power should be discounted for unreliability.
The scam is easily exposed by requiring a level playing field. Namely any tenderer of electrons to the communal grid can only tender those they can reasonably guarantee 24/7/365 along with FCAS or keep them. Then the fickle feeders/dumpers would have to install storage and/or partner with dispatchables in order to lift their average tender and scam over.
That can’t happen politically because the climate changers would have to fess up to all the rooftop solar owners they were fed a lot of bovine excrement about cheap renewables. So cheap renewables scam must roll on to greenout train wreck time with power bill poverty a necessary attribute.
Fundamentals always prevail. The term “renewables” applied to weather dependent generators is a sad joke on civilisation. The term would normally mean sustainable but the current crop of wind generators and solar panels require more energy to make than they can produce in a demand driven grid over their relatively short operating life.
The fundamental issue is that they use more energy in their manufacture than they can ever produce in their current life. They would need to operate for more than a hundred years to return the energy invested in them and the supporting infrastructure.
Second rate developed economies can achieve Net Zero but only while China is willing to burn their vast coal reserves at an eye watering rate to make the WDGs and all the supporting hardware. Any economy reliant on weather for electricity are on an inevitable path to forego manufacturing. So there is an ever increasing reliance on China and a few other countries that are climate atheists to manufacture the stuff that underpins this silly transition.
A common claim around here but always with no evidence whatever. Other sources claim the exact opposite, that the energy costs of production are much lower for wind turbines than for any FF plant and are paid off in a couple of years.
I don’t know the answers but the endless repetition of baseless claims, that is claims apparently based on nothing that can be specified or supported, are really tiring.
A simpler argument is that no renewables manufacture uses renewable energy. Denmark is the country with the highest proportion of its domestic energy from renewables. Vestas, its wind turbine manufacturer, manufactures in China using fossil fuel energy.
And it seems probable that China also has much lower labor, material, and transportation costs, which are different factors than energy efficiency.. Of course one might say that “energy” is like CO2, part of everything, but that still doesn’t prove the proposition.
I run load off grid so I have a handle on the real costs of weather dependent electricity. I live at 37S in the driest continent. My system is cost minimised for the load it serves, which gets down to having the optimum mix of storage and collection. Most panels follow the roof line at 27 degree pitch but 1kW of panels are set at 50 degrees to horizontal.
The month of May has been the defining period because it is month of high cloud and relatively low sun. The battery has gone low 5 times in the last 12 years; always in May. Hence collection reliability is around 99.9%. The panels average 5.8% capacity factor over a yearly cycle. The battery can sustain the load for 48 hours without any sunlight.
With hindsight, I could have improved the capacity factor of the panels by tilting them all to suit May sunlight but it would be minor.
Any analysis that compares wind turbines alone with fossil fuel generators is unreal. It is fantasy because it excludes all the real system costs. To supply electricity to a demand driven grid, the cost of storage would have to be zero to make those numbers meaningful. That only occurs in an existing hydro grid. The cost of storage is the major cost of WDGs and is never included in the simplistic analysis. So any real analysis needs to consider the energy that is required to build the storage and include that with the energy to build and instal the wind turbine. If the WDG is not at the load then all the transmission and stabilising assets need to be included as well.
Countries that have high penetration of WDGs are abandoning manufacturing and increasingly buying manufactured goods from China, which is prepared to fuel its manufacturing with vast quantities of coal. For example, all other countries have abandoned silicon production for solar panels. China is the only country prepared to burn more coal to make the silicon that other countries need for their transition.
There is no penetration level of WDGs that lower the system cost. As soon as a single WDG is permitted on a primarily coal fired grid, the costs go up and China has to burn more coal to sustain the insanity..
The difference is in how you do the calculation. If you do it holistically on a total country basis you find out that there is no net carbon gain from deploying renewables and electricity just triples in price. But if you do it on a per windmills basis and ignore all the externalised costs – backup power, maintenance using off road vehicles and/or boats, extra grid additions to accomidate high peak to mean flows and so on, the answer that emerges is that renewable energy is reasonably cost competitive.
Its like putting cheap cross ply tyres on a car without realising that you are going to increase fuel consumption by 50% overall. To the simple minded it is cheaper, but holistic analisis shows it’s a dud.
Are you ignoring how many turbines it takes just to have the capacity to match a fossil fuel plant?
One thing for certain, the costs aren’t “paid off in a couple of years” when all of the manufacturers are losing vast sums of money.
Several replies here that dance around the issue but never address the question/claim.
Some amount of energy is required to manufacture and install a wind turbine. There is also a $ cost for it, (“it” being the energy required for gathering the materials, manufacturing the parts, transporting the parts, then installing everything into a wind turbine – not the total effect on a grid), but that $ cost involves considerably more than “it” (the energy required). I’ve seen claims (claims, not evidence or calculations) that the energy required to achieve “it” is generated by the wind turbine in less than a year and claims, such as the post I replied to, that the amount of energy to do “it” is more energy than the wind turbine will generate over its lifetime.
I’ve also read similar claims, both ways, about solar panels but solar panels are not wind turbines, nor are batteries, transformers, transmission wires, etc. However, even a discussions that includes all those other factors of the grid needs specific, real life numbers to make sense. Those kinds of numbers have been presented in various places, in various ways. I can’t personally say if the job has been well done.
I made no claim that a wind turbine generates abundant energy that more than justifies its existence. I said it is quite tiresome to frequently see statements equivalent to
“Everyone can plainly see that the ground gets wet when it rains very much. No further proof is needed for such an obvious state of affairs”
when it is not at all obvious. There are many moving parts, it is very complicated, and the sum of all that can’t be emotionally or instinctively concluded. The same can be said for coal, gas, and hydro generation but those have long been considered, calculated, and acted upon without all the religious support of wind and its cousins, so can somewhat more rationally be accepted, even without a full engineering background. Of course, grid generated electricity per se, from whatever source and at whatever cost, might be justified, no matter how energy inefficient it is, if the end product is useful enough.
As an aside, having an off grid system for generating electricity for some specific purpose may be quite justified even if it costs a great deal more than it will return. May is an important but somewhat subjective conditional.
On top of the high cost of steel for windmill farm construction, is it too much to ask what the additional costs are of using “green” steel or is that a question to ask after project completion when the promoters have their payoffs and exec bonuses and political donations.
Another name for “green steel” is bamboo
If by “green steel” you mean steel produced by using hydrogen Hybrit in Sweden have produced 100 tonnes and are scaling up to 1m tonnes pa. The world currently uses over 1800m tonnes pa.
A recent joint press release from Wind Europe and the European Steel Industry (26th Jan 2023 ‘Ensuring access to critical minerals for steel and wind sectors essential for EU clean-technology economy’) said
“Steel, iron and cement account for 90% of the total mass of modern wind turbines. A modern onshore wind turbine contains around 120 tonnes of steel per MW of capacity”
Coking coal is essential for steel and cement production and will be for a very long time to come.
(Note the Hybrit system is currently 30% more expensive than using coking coal though that may reduce over time)
Guaranteed to increase because the cost of electricity to make the hydrogen and convert the iron ore will go up as the penetration of “renewables” increases.
This begs te question of whether wind turbines can generate enough hydrogen to make themselves and still have anything worthwhile left over to feed the grid.
It will be useful though when we have a surplus of all nuclear power.
Never happen. For the Eco-Nazis, it’s the dumbest non-solution (i.e., wind and solar) or nothing. They fight nuclear as hard as fossil fuels.
30% more expensive. AND where did they get the hydrogen? AND how much of the energy it took to produce the hydrogen came from fossil fuels?
Another tail chasing exercise. It will always be more expensive and therefore uncompetitive with using coal to produce the steel.
Hybrit stands for Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology
They say they use fossil fuel free electricity and hydrogen produced from water.
I agree that coking coal will be used for a very long time. As I mentioned the world uses around 1800 million tonnes of steel every year and that quantity is also increasing year on year. Hybrit have produced 100m tonnes of 30% more expensive steel and are scaling up to produce 1m tonnes a year. Others may follow suit but there is a long way to go before coking coal will be toppled – if ever.
At Moray West the steel is coming from China for both the monopole piles and the support towers. Perhaps that is why it works out so much cheaper than îles d’Yeu et de Noirmoutier where the French government may have insisted on supporting French industry.
“…where the French government may have insisted on supporting French industry”
Funny how the French always manage to do that despite supposedly being subject to EU competition rules.
“”difficult to translate wind power into profits.””
That’s turning patchy production into continuous profit, which is where being paid to switch off comes in…
All five of Europe’s wind turbine makers have been operating at a loss for the last couple of years and do not have the capacity to keep up with the EUs green pretensions.
At some point Governments will withdraw their support.
I wish Stephen, but I ain’t holding my breath.
Not as long as the “governments” continue to get their share of the subsidies.
Not as long as it remains a useful lever to power and control.
Assorted European governments have just held a summit in Ostend, vowing 300GW of North Sea wind by 2050.
North Sea Summit agrees 120GW offshore wind 2030 target (current-news.co.uk)
That is like the Medieval Catholic withdrawing its support for executing heretic because there were so many of them. I think a massive reduction of government power would have to occur for governments to stop supporting their official religion, which seems to me to be the reason the Church stopped pursuing some if its policies: loss of the power to keep it up.
I feel the author of this piece is looking at Renewable Energy from the wrong perspective. The whole point of RE is most definitely NOT to provide a reliable and inexhaustible source of energy for Society, but rather to make as much money for the backers from Government subsidies before the entire scam collapses.
I suspect she knows that perfectly well.
More like deep crimson!
These, and countless other reasons to resurrect Don Quixote over at:
Dur to global overheating we have no bananas today
No doubt Nick will pop up shortly to inform us that scientifically, wind power must be cheap because wind is free.
Seems to me that more wind and solar power just makes us more vulnerable to so called climate change.
But once we achieve the Green Utopia the Sun will always be shining and there will always be a gentle breeze to keep the pinwheels turning with plenty of room where the deer and unicorns can play.
(Not many birds left though.)
It certainly makes us FAR more vulnerable to bad weather. In a powerful hurricane, you don’t just lose transmission and distribution lines, you lose the power production equipment ITSELF.
This extends the length of power outages following such storms.
Don’t think there’s ever been a coal, oil, gas or nuclear plant blown apart by a hurricane.
No – once the globe de-carbonizes fully, there will be nirvana. One clean little blue/green planet floatin’ around the sun.
Imagine a perfect world with no deadly storms, hurricanes, floods, droughts, wildfires, melting ice, bleached coral, cattle, ICE vehicles. No oil, gas or coal, just beautiful rare earth metal mining for ever.
Stunning solar arrays that go on for hundreds of miles, and wind farms on land and sea. And massive blocks of batteries as far as the eye can see, glistening in the sunlight. The wind turbines turning, always.
Renewable infrastructure and grids all made from renewable energy and hydrogen! — Its perfect! — SARC/–
The powers that be see wind and solar as just the first step on a journey that will take us back to the cave cooking our meager meals over twigs and dung after the vast majority have died of privation at an early age.
I’ve been looking at some of the projects from the Ocean Winds JV between French ENGIE and Spanish EDP because they just closed £2bn of finance for Moray West, 882MW (with 100MW 12 year PPA to Google as part of the security, along with other corporate PPAs). Of course, that excludes the equity financing for the project, making the likely cost of the order of £3m/MW. Moray West is an AR4 project, which means that it is not obligated to take up its CFD currently priced at a loss-making £45.37/MWh: it can benefit from higher market prices instead (which are doubtless the basis for its PPAs).
Somewhat cheaper than their French project off the coast of the Vendée at the mouth of the Loire, which is €2.5bn for 500MW. €5m/MW.
Then of course in the US there is Mayflower
I’m sure they’ll have a whale of a time with that.
The way things are going we’ll probably end up dependent of whale-oil lamps for domestic lighting – so much for progress!
Again we can’t seem to figure out how to separate quoted text from the regular text in articles. This is really tiresome.
The faster they move ahead with “ Renewables” the quicker we get this over with by getting to Texas 2/21 grid collapse but at a much larger scale. Same thing with Biden running again. Or Fox firing Tucker( will never watch Fox again, just me). Go ahead idiots , knock yourself out.
The media is changing fast too ,MSM advertising / narrative control may seem scary powerful, but it’s a old model that is going to be flanked ,going to be replaced by alternative info sources. People don’t like their government acting like energy/covid/info mafia.
And today’s governments don’t like their citizens running hither and yon at will, saying whatever they want to each other. Most governments just don’t have their control systems fully functioning yet. It’s a had race.
This is the major key to the great wealth divide happening throughout the western democracies. Trillions of dollars are being extracted from the pockets of the people through sky-rocketing electricity prices and through government subsidies for ‘renewables’. That money goes into the pockets of selected big businesses and their already-wealthy owners.
It is said of foreign aid that it transfers wealth from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. Well, ‘renewables’ are like foreign aid on steroids. Renewables make people poor by transferring their money to the rich.
Are you comparing “green energy” to “big oil”?
Very nice Linnea. The government does not belong in the energy producing business. They are not up to the task. If we removed their heavy hand from the mix wind and solar would collapse from their own weight. They have no business interfering with our grid.
Well stated, Linnea. Can I extend your sentiments a little, please?
Society has to overcome the current Bureaucracy for Everything way of thinking.
In the olden days, we chose a doctor, consulted, paid the bill. Now we have huge bureaucracies to pay. If we wanted electricity, a company set up a power station, sent us a bill each month that we paid. Now we have to pay for a massive bureaucracy as well, even if the do not permit a new power station. In my speciality, finding new mines, we used to have a set of laws and a legal system for disputes. We would negotuaite access with the land owner, explore, if successful we would buy the land at a price that if needed could be settled in a Court. Now we have to pay for a huge “permitting” bureaucracy with innumerable opaque regulations and time delays you would not believe possible.
Society has had experience in working this way. You might be too young to remember those Golden Years, but we worked well with a tenth of the present volume of bureaucratic mass.
A fair part, of my job in the 1980-90 era was fighting the growth and intereference of the bureaucracy in our exploration and mining sector. We took Ministers to courts, with bills into the millions of dollars a pop. Not enough colleagues joined in the general battle and slowly, after I retired, we lost by taxpayer-funded growth of the bureaucracies.
I won’t go on. The message is simple enough Geoff S
The usual objection to this line of thought is “What about the poor people who could not afford Doctors, etc?”
Answer. We were the poor people. We had nothing when Dad came home, wounded for life, after War in New Guinea. We pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps.
In economic theory, if poor people cannot afford Doctors, one solution is to generate more doctors and more competition. Creating a bigger bureaucracy can only worsen the need. Yet just about everyone today has been convinced that bureaucracy is salvation for all. Codswallop. Geoff S
wind and the other renewable generators (hydro excepted) cannot compete on practical or technical terms with conventional generators, they are not an equivalent nor are they a replacement. They can’t run without additional conventional generation.
The media simply do not understand this.
Run two grids.
One grid 100% FF based, the other 100% renewables, no FF firming, using batteries. Let business and the consumer decide which one they want. — I know which grid would be idle and out of business virtually overnight…
The jig is up for fake green, anti environmental, diffuse, unreliable, expensive, bird/bat/whale killing, landscape and earth wrecking(mining), crony capitalism rewarded and corrupt government forced wind energy. After 20-25 years, they need to be replaced and the old monstrosities are dumped in our landfills.
The wind market spiked higher ahead of the news of the scam money gushing in, then peaked on Biden’s inauguration…….buy the news, sell the fact.
Even promises of trillions of dollars from the government this decade, with mandates and subsidies and nonsense physics that defy the laws of energy and nature can’t won’t ever get this market close to the old highs, when Biden was inaugurated in early January 2021.
Because in the REAL world, wind energy is massively under performing. Without massive, corrupt governmental support this industry would completely collapse.
Instead, it will be a continual, major drag on the US economy as it loses momentum and eventually dies out after the last billion dollars can be pilfered out.
Sustained as long as possible so the crony capitalists and politicians can maximize their personal enrichment/agenda’s. With the citizens in our country the victims. Especially the poor people that are hurt the most from high energy prices and a weak economy.
Especially the wildlife that is harmed.
Especially the environments and earth that are harmed.
You can take this one to the bank:
IT’S THE RICH PEOPLE/POLITICIANS(ok, same thing) making all the money on this scam and the poor people getting hurt the most!
I learned this in 1987, when I drove through Altamont Pass (site of one of the first wind farms) and noticed that a third of the wind turbines weren’t turning on a day with a steady wind in their power band. It seems the government was subsidizing building the turbines, but not maintenance and repairs, so when a turbine broke down, they just turned it off.