Skip to comments.Wind industry boom going bust
Posted on 10/25/2012 1:24:29 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
The continuance and/or discontinuance of the wind production tax credit is the subject of much debate among lawmakers and lobbyists at the moment, and it's an issue President Obama often likes to bring up as a hot talking point on the campaign trail, particularly in when he's in Iowa. Advocates like to throw around impressive-sounding statistics about how the wind industry is constantly furthering its own potential and providing Americans with an ever-greater proportion of their energy needs, and how the wind industry provides a bunch of jobs. Here's some of the latest data, via The Hill:
Wind power posted the greatest gain in domestic energy consumption in 2011 as overall energy use dropped, according to an analysis by the Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Energy consumption from wind power rose 27 percent in 2011 to 1.17 quadrillion Btu (British thermal units), up from 0.92 in 2010, LLNL said, citing U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
Energy consumption from wind could rise in 2012 as well, as newly installed electricity capacity increased 40 percent in the third quarter compared with 2011, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced last week.
But AWEA says investment already is falling off for 2013, with the fate of an industry tax credit hanging in the balance. …
Democrats, led by the Obama administration, call the incentive a jobs issue, citing industry estimates that ending it would cost 37,000 jobs.
Sure, more wind farms have come online and supplied more power in the past couple of years due to sustained government “investment” (tax credits, state renewable portfolio standards, etcetera) while Americans’ overall energy usage has dropped (due to increased technological efficiency across all spheres and, oh yeah, we’re stuck in an almost-recession), but why is it that the moment the wind industry’s biggest source of special federal treatment is called into question, all of this ostensibly marvelous potential seems to suddenly disappear? As RealClearEnergy points out, when it comes to wind, it’s always boom or bust:
The wind energy lives and dies by its tax credit. That’s because there is no money to be made in generating electricity from windmills. They are tremendously materials intensive, consuming steel and concrete in prodigious amounts. Each 40-story windmill produces 2 megawatts at best, so you need hundred of them to equal a conventional power plant. Even then, they generate unpredictably and only 30 percent of the time. The only thing that makes them worth building is the production tax credit.
With Republicans now in control of the House of Representatives, however, the PTC will probably not be renewed unless Democrats achieve a remarkable victory in November. As a result, windmill construction is about to end almost completely. Layoffs have already begun.
The wind industry and its lobbies are throwing all of the well-monied power and influence they have into the issue, but the problem is that all of these green jobs the Obama administration likes to tout aren’t wind-powered; they’re subsidy-powered. Ergo, they are not productive jobs and they come at an overall cost to our economy, whatever the supposed benefits and trumped-up statistics might say.
Windmills are an ecological disaster in-and-of themselves.
>> Windmills are an ecological disaster in-and-of themselves.
I’d love to have a smallish ~5kw one out here on my farm someday, to supplement the solar panels I’d also like to have someday.
It’s just a self-sufficiency thing, that’s all.
The difference is, my windmill won’t be forty stories tall, and I won’t ask YOU to help pay for it. :-)
E-on Energy in Indiana is in a frenzy to get 140 of these 450 foot money pits up and running before the end of the year.
These are bieng built in some of the best cropland in the country. Even in this drought year, around here, the crops are only 20% or so below average. Without irrigation.
I’m betting that within a year of completion, E-On Energy filed for bankruptcy and the new owners will have absolutely no obligation to pay the lease payments that were promised.
Once sign on tho that lease, the owner loses control of their entire farm for the length of the lease.
Can’t build a building or plant a tree without permission from the energy co.
Man, the size of those things, one of them smack ya, you’d end up in the next county.. I’m sure big birds will be able to fly around them safely.
The idiots are pushing a constitutional amendment here in Michigan that would require between 2000 and 4000 windmills.
Windmills are loud, inefficient, bird-killing monstrosities on the landscape. Their use should be banned rather than endorsed!
The two windmill blade manufacturing plants here in central Arkansas are laying off workers and never even came close to the promised job numbers (that bought them major subsidies and tax credits).
No they aren’t. Utility scale wind is - or could be - a cost-effective supplement to other forms of generation. I know it’s fashionable here to mock “windmills” but that’s just ignorant when there is good science and technical facts that say the opposite. No different than the lefties jumping onto global warming.
But the interference of the gov’t in the form of issuing tax credits for production has upset the natural evolution of the technology in the exact same way that Cash for Clunkers and the GM Volt have in the automotive industry.
Innovation happens when private enterprise and risk capitalists put their money where the problems are, and create breakthroughs and step-change improvements. Most experts feel wind is capable of that - but as long as Uncle Sam is willing to send out big checks for keeping the technology stalled at an level that is not cost-efficient, who would take that risk?
Let the PTC die. Let the industry regroup and innovation happen as it should. Don’t indict the technology when it is gov’t interference in the free market that is at fault.
WHERE ARE THOSE 5,000,000 NEW GREEN JOBS?
Where is the XL pipeline?
How about he 85% of federal lands not available for lease to the O&G industry? they are making a big deal of 23MM acres in the Gulf of Mexico nobody in the industry wanted to bid on last December being offered again, like this will make us energy independent and his administration really favors “all of the above” BS!!! the industry will only risk (bid) millions of dollars on what it believes to be POTENTIALLY productive, not “goat pasture”. Obama says the industry had its chance and won’t drill. BS! These things take time to explore seismically and devlop; more than five years, but we need to start now, and with 10 year leases on frontier plays. His regime cancelled leases the industry payed millions for, just like they re-wrote 100 years of bankruptcy law by placing the unions ahead of the secured bond-holders in the auto industry bailout. These are examples of a soviet style government where the law is cast aside at the whim of the administration. Now the propaganda ministers are spinning it otherwise for the “low information” voter.
Convenient for GE that Jeffrey Immelt had a set of keys to the White House.
A search of “windmills alter weather patterns” returns plenty of interesting articles.
Imelt is backing Romney these days.
We need to hold the stupid politicians who waste taxpayer’s money for this type of crap accountable.
The federal govt should have zero role in energy, other than defense purposes like stockpiling for a large-scale interruption. It is a states issue.
And Obama has proved once and for all that it is only benefiting a few wallets that happen to be his buddies.
>> Man, the size of those things
Yeah, a 5Kw would actually be biting off a little more than I could chew... probably more like a 2Kw. That’s roughly the equivalent of a 15-amp electrical circuit. Roughly.
As far as birds — most of them would avoid it, and the ones that didn’t would probably be doves, so I’d just pick ‘em up and put ‘em in the freezer. (And bury the occasional spotted owl or golden-cheeked warbler... ssshhhhh...) :-)
They don't see the blades coming. Tip speed can be over 100 mi/h.
Check this chart:
If payments aren’t made, the lease is broken, I’d think.
Yesterday a ship entered SD bay with windmill blades on deck from China. Obama is pumping the Chinese economy with his green program.
Most folks didn’t read the fine print.
they were too starry-eyed by all of that taxpayer cash that was being waved around.
That's the key! I'm fascinated by the development of so-called alternative energies. I just want them to be developed like computers, cars, the telephone, and every other invention we've come to depend on. Without government "help."
If that's so, then you don't need subsidies, do ya?
There is no evidence that industrial wind power is likely to have a significant impact on carbon emissions. The European experience is instructive. Denmark, the worlds most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind powers unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).
Gotta keep those subsidies rolling in to you though, don't we?
...and in the form of mandated load percentages that power companies deliver to their customers, regardless of any actual additional power need, and also regardless of the additional costs involved.
To me, it makes no sense to "need" (to fulfill mandates) to deliver 1,000MW of wind generated power, that requires the installation of 1,000MW of wind farm AND 500MW of backup conventional generation, rather than being allowed to simply build a 1,000MW base load plant.
IF the market can do it competitively, and without the subsidies, then fine; otherwise, forget it.