Germany’s Offshore Wind Power Debacle

angry german kid

Justifiably angry about what they’ve done to his future.

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The Germans went into wind power harder and faster than anyone else – and the cost of doing so is catching up with a vengeance. The subsidies have been colossal, the impacts on the electricity market chaotic and – contrary to the purpose of the policy – CO2 emissions are rising fast (see our post here).

Some 800,000 German homes have been disconnected from the grid – casualties of Germany’s out of control renewables policy. A further 7 million households are left struggling to pay their power bills – forced to choose between heating and eating – victims of what is euphemistically called “fuel poverty”. In response, Germans have picked up their axes and have headed to their forests in order to improve their sense of energy security – although foresters apparently take the view that this self-help measure is nothing more than blatant timber theft (see our post here).

One justification put up by the wind industry for the social and economic chaos caused by spiralling power costs was the claim that investment in wind power would create a “new” economy with millions of groovy “green” jobs. Rather than resulting in an employment bonanza, the billions in subsidies needed to support Germany’s “green” dreaming has forced once competitive industry head to the US – where power prices are 1/3 of Germany’s (see our posts here and here and here) – taking thousands of real jobs with them. And – to add insult to injury – the so-called “green” jobs miracle has collapsed in a fiasco of failed ventures and dashed hopes – simply because the jobs “created” were heavily subsidised and, therefore, unsustainable (see our post here).

Not only is Germany’s wind rush causing economic and social chaos, its efforts to generate wind power offshore have turned into an insanely costly debacle. Here’s the Canada Free Press on just how ludicrous the German’s love of giant fans has become.

Wind Turbines but no Power
Canada Free Press
Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser
13 September 2014

The first large scale wind-power installation, some 100 km (65 miles) offshore the northwest coast of Germany has finally been connected to the grid. The Offshore-Windpark Deutsche Bucht is a wind farm with a total of 80 wind turbine towers, each with a hub height of 100 m (300 ft.) above the sea and a combined design output of some 400 Megawatts in electric power.

Connection to the Grid

Because of delays in getting the underwater cabling and connection to the power grid on land, the whole power park was standing idle for the last two years. In order to prevent potential damage to gear boxes and turbines, each tower was supplied with energy from small gasoline-powered electricity generators for that time.

Several years behind schedule, the Bard 1 wind farm finally came altogether in March 2014. The wind farm was connected to the electric grid and started to deliver energy. Alas, it did not last very long. In March, the separate AC-to-DC converter station at the facility suffered a “meltdown.” A new converter installed a few days ago was shut down not much later without explanation.

HVDC Converters

The alternating current (AC) coming from the turbines cannot be directly transmitted to the grid. Instead, it needs to be converted to high voltage direct current (HVDC) first. In principle, that is a straight forward task and has been solved for a long time. All the high-tension electric power transmission lines around the world use such HVDC converters. So what’s the problem with the wind farm converter?

In contrast to a steady one-source input, like from a nuclear or coal-fired power plant, a wind farm has many smaller sources with the output of each constantly varying with conditions like wind direction, wind speed and blade angle. Such variations lead to destabilizing energy-oscillations in the whole system that cannot be handled by the current converters. To make matters worse, the engineers have yet to fully understand the nature of the problem and to come up with any solution for it.

Investor Worries

In short, the power that may be in the offshore wind (if and when it blows) cannot easily be controlled and converted into anything useful at this time. With Germany’s plans for another 10,000 offshore turbines some investors are getting a bit worried about the possibility of unsolvable systemic problems with such far-offshore wind power systems.

Of course, one has to ask why wind power installations have enjoyed the attention of investors to begin with. It was all based on the tax write-offs and guaranteed energy feed-in tariffs some governments in Europe and elsewhere bestowed upon them. Both in the U.S. and Canada such government schemes for “alternative energy” are still in full bloom.

In contrast, other countries have seen the light and are going in the opposite direction, building new coal-fired and nuclear power plants as fast as they can.

New Power Plants 

While in the U.S. coal mines are closing down and the miners being laid off, the opposite is happening elsewhere on the globe. China, India, France and Hungary, to name a few, are building new power plants based on coal and/or nuclear fuel. Even Japan, which closed down its nuclear power plants after the Fukushima sea quake, is set to restart several reactors next month. On a global scale, however, coal is still the king in terms of stationary electric power generation.

Despite a consumption of 90 million barrels of oil per day, the world needs more coal than ever, about 8,000 million tons per year. Most of that is used for electric power, the rest mainly for heating. Obviously, with estimated reserves many multiples of that annual consumption, the world is not going to run out of coal tomorrow. In the long run though, I think nuclear power is the way to go for electricity generation.

Real “Alternatives” 

The world has enough uranium resources to satisfy the demand for several hundred years alone. Then there is the potential for thorium-based reactors, with a potential fuel supply in the U.S. for another 1,000 years. The holy grail of energy independence, however, would be controlled nuclear fusion. If that can be achieved, the earth would have an unlimited power supply. Now that would really be “alternative power.”

The highly touted, government-subsidized, unreliable, intermittent and expensive “alternative power” schemes currently in vogue are nothing but a phenomenal waste of money. As evident from the described wind farm in Germany, the required technology is not in place at this time, perhaps may never be.

I suggest a simple solution for the problem: a truly “alternative government.”
Canada Free Press

offshore_6

Expensive & pointless: billions of bucks for very little bang …

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. As you might expect the failure of the Bard 1 Offshore wind farm HVDC is big news in Germany too. NoTricksZone has some partial translations from the Spiegel Magazine: Germanys Large Scale Offshore Windpark Dream Morphs Into An Engineering And Cost Nightmare.

    The problems at BARD 1 are so serious that Spiegel writes that it is “a problem for the entire green energy industry. The Trianel Windpark Borkum, Germany’s second major offshore wind project, is scheduled to come online this month, but now no one is sure that the park will operate smoothly, Spiegel reports.”

    This fiasco has the rent seekers scurrying for their lawyers as the proverbial starts hitting their still not turning fans!

  2. There are a lot of pollies in the world that are dumb, dumb, dumb and are dumber then dumb. Any one with half a brain could see that fans would never supply reliable power.

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