A windy day at sea

On Monday, I read an article written by Bloomberg called “Costs for generating wind power at sea drop.”  The gist of the article written by Jessica Shankleman and Brian Parkin is the cost of building a wind facility offshore is now less than building a new nuclear power plant and getting closer to the cost of building a coal power plant.

It should be noted this is the cost of building and does not factor in the present value costs of retrieval, transportation, environmental degradation, distribution, maintenance, litigation and health-related costs, which make coal energy less palatable than wind energy. Just maintaining coal ash many years during and after the life of a coal-fired plant is something utilities would love to avoid, as it is the gift that keeps on giving, in a negative way.

Per the article, “Across Europe, the price of building an offshore wind farm has fallen 46% in the last five years – 22% last year alone.” The average building cost is $126 per MWH versus $155 for nuclear and $88 for coal. Yet, Henrik Poulsen, the CEO of a Danish utility, noted “If you have a sufficiently large site with the right wind speeds, then I do believe you can build offshore wind at least the same price as new build coal in many places around the world.”

Heretofore, the significant growth in wind energy has been in our plains states, with Texas leading the way. Iowa gets a third of its energy from wind energy. Yet, the US is expected to build offshore wind in a significant way in the future. Our goal is “install 86 GW of turbines at sea by 2050. That’s six times the 14 GW of capacity now in place worldwide, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.”

Wind energy has overtaken hydro-energy as the leading renewable source in the US. Like solar, it is taking off in installation and job growth. And, with the significant efforts from folks like Tesla owner Elon Musk on large-scale battery storage, it will grow even more. As we speak, Musk is helping out Australia with a power outage problem with a goal of setting up a battery storage facility in 100 days or it is free.

This is the progress that needs to be discussed as it is exciting, environmentally needed and job-creating. Investing in an increasingly obsolete energy is throwing money away.



7 thoughts on “A windy day at sea

  1. Very encouraging. The wealthy who live on the coastline don’t want the turbines off-shore, so it could be interesting. Trump fought against them in Scotland (and lost). But it is a good sign — and would be even better if we heard about the generation of electricity from the tides as well!

    • Hugh, the one off Rhode Island is underway, but you are right that wealthy seaside owners stopped one off Massachusetts several years ago. I think they look elegant. Trump’s petulance was an excellent example when he unsuccessfully fought them in Scotland. Keith

    • And, as Bill Maher asked on his show, “Do you know what happens when a windmill crashes into the ocean? – a splash.” As opposed to an oil rig crashing.

  2. Note to Readers: While Trump keeps up his anti-climate change rhetoric, seventeen Republican Congressional representatives have moved forward a bill to reiterate the need to do something about climate change. Many hail from areas like Miami where sea water comes up through street drains at even minor storms now. With folks like Elon Musk, serious minded people will move beyond Trump on this issue leaving him behind. Now is not the time for naysayers like Trump and Pruitt. Our planet can not afford their blocking efforts.

  3. Note to Readers: Just an added thought. If anyone doubts the future of wind energy, note that two of the largest companies in the world – GE and Siemens – are two of the largest producers of wind turbines. It should be noted Warren Buffett invested in GE, in part, due to their wind turbine business.

  4. Note to Readers: An excerpt from a January, 2017 New York Times article on the advancing offshore wind energy project off Long Island.

    “Last fall, five turbines in the waters of Rhode Island — the country’s first offshore farm — began delivering power to the grid. European energy developers like Statoil and Dong Energy are making big investments to bring projects to American waters. Last year in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, signed into law a mandate that is pushing development forward.

    And in New York, after years of stymied progress, the Long Island Power Authority has reached an agreement with Deepwater Wind, which built the Rhode Island turbine array, to drop a much larger farm — 15 turbines capable of running 50,000 average homes — into the ocean about 35 miles from Montauk. If approved by the utility board on Wednesday, the $1 billion installation could become the first of several in a 256-square-mile parcel, with room for as many as 200 turbines, that Deepwater is leasing from the federal government.”

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