All the excitement about energy independence is good for people who appear to sell the answers. Like ethanol, wind tubine manufacturers are enjoying brisk sales, and what is slyly referred to as "pricing power".
Developers of wind farms are reviewing the costs of projects amid hot international demand for turbines, which is driving up the costs of the machinery, The Dominion Post said.Energy independence will not come cheap. Still, many in agriculture view wind farms as an ideal economic answer for rural areas. Critics abound to point out the significant drawbacks to "free" wind energy. Unfortunately, the economics of wind energy require a "fixed" market with government-mandated prices/subsidies and power company rules. Wind energy also requires backup generation - often gas turbine plants that can be brought on-line quickly.Genesis public affairs spokesman Richard Gordon said the cost of wind turbines had risen 30 per cent since Genesis started examining the Awhitu wind farm project 18 months ago. [More]
The goals of renewable energy development are reduction of reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels, reduction of greenhouse gas and other emissions, and establishment of more sustainable sources of energy. Some critics question wind energy's ability to significantly move society towards these goals. They point out that 25-30% annual load factor is typical for wind facilities. The intermittent and non-dispatchable nature of wind turbine power requires that "spinning reserves" are kept burning for supply security. The fluctuation in wind power requires more frequent load ramping of such plants to maintain grid system frequency. This can force operators to run conventional plants below optimal thermal efficiency resulting in greater emissions. A recent European Nuclear Society study estimates that the equivalent of one third of energy saved from wind generation is lost to these inefficiencies. [More]Skyrocketing wind turbine costs only further skews the economic equation for wind power. The biggest problem is wind energy competes not with oil so much as coal - which is very cheap domestic energy. Meanwhile, our energy Achilles heel is our "addiction to oil" and the windpower can only affect transportation oil use (70%) if we switch to electric "plug in" hybrids. This has not been a very popular idea so far.
The implication for me: energy - all kinds - will be much more expensive than we have been used to for the foreseeable future. Wind energy will for the most part simply be a minor boondoggle benefitting those who own or sell turbines, not power consumers.