Australia’s Large-Scale RET is facing inevitable doom – and with it the wind industry – due to the fact that Australia’s commercial retailers decided to kill it off over 3 years ago; refusing, since then, to enter Power Purchase Agreements with wind power outfits. The result has been that commercial lenders have ceased lending for any new projects.
The ‘lender’ of last resort is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (a taxpayer underwritten renewable slush fund) set up by the Green/Labor Alliance back in 2010.
When the Coalition took charge in 2013, their Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann set out on a mission to scrap it because it makes no sense to have a government entity lending, at heavily subsidised rates, to an already insanely generously subsidised wind industry.
Now that the CEFC is under Environment Minister, young Gregory Hunt’s control, Greg appears keen to use it as his personal piggy bank, lending to his wind industry mates, running wind power outfits that commercial banks won’t touch with a barge pole. Not that Greg or his mates bare any risk; that’s all for the Australian taxpayer, of course.
Under his adviser Patrick Gibbon’s ‘brilliant’ direction (no doubt with his mate Vestas front man, Ken McAlpine’s ‘help’), Hunt’s latest move to save the LRET – and their wind industry benefactors – is a plan to punch around 400 of these things off the Victorian coast – bankrolled with funds from the CEFC.
Never mind the fact that offshore wind power performs no better than its onshore cousin – both being wholly weather dependent ‘systems’ – requiring 100% of their ‘capacity’ to be backed up 100% of the time with coal and gas-fired plant. And never mind that the cost of (occasional) offshore wind power is 60% more expensive than the (occasional) onshore stuff. As The Economist put it:
“Offshore wind power is staggeringly expensive. Dieter Helm, an economist at Oxford University, describes it as “among the most expensive ways of marginally reducing carbon emissions known to man”. Under a subsidy system unveiled late in 2013, the government guarantees farms at sea £155 ($250) per megawatt hour for their juice. That is three times the current wholesale price of electricity and about 60% more than is promised to onshore turbines.”
(for more see our post here)
Then there’s the over-blown wind industry claims about the useful lifespan of these things:
Lucky to last 10 years onshore (brushing aside the need to replace blades, gearboxes, bearings etc 2 or 3 times during that period), gales and salt-laden air, result in even more metal fatigue, corrosion and component failure, when these things are planted out to sea:
Then there’s the bunkum about maritime sites being able to deliver perfect, 11m/s breezes 24 x 365; and therefore a constant stream of wonderful ‘free’ wind power. However, claims that offshore wind power is far more efficient and reliable than its onshore cousin have taken a belting, as fierce as a North Sea gale, in the wind-cult’s pin-up, Germany.
Engineering Fiasco … Spiegel On Offshore Wind Parks: “Does Not Fulfill The Hopes Of Reliable Energy”!
26 December 2015
Today I have a short but interesting report from Spiegel.de here concerning the performance of North Sea wind parks, which were once seen as the future backbone of Germany’s energy supply.
Unfortunately things are not working out that way at all.
Delivering only a tiny fraction of rated capacity
Spiegel writes that Germany now has some 3000 megawatts of North Sea offshore installed rated capacity, but which at times “delivers only single or double digit megawatts” and that “it does not fulfill the hopes of a reliable energy supply“.
Spiegel writes that on one Tuesday morning in mid December the “total power fed-in dropped to just a single megawatt” (0.033% of rated capacity!) … “enough to supply only a few hundred households“.
Oh my, what a stunning efficiency.
Dogged by engineering woes, shoddy planning
Germany’s drive to offshore wind energy has been dogged by multiple technical problems and shoddy planning. Even when the wind does blow, the cross-country power transmission needed to deliver the power to markets still have not been constructed, and so it is impossible to deliver the generated power where it is needed (if needed).
Wind parks operators are often ordered to shut down their turbines in order to prevent grid overloads. Also read here.
Wild output fluctuations
Spiegel writes that mid-December was not the first time that offshore power output fell to just a tiny fraction of rated capacity, and the flagship news weekly describes how the offshore wind power output has been fluctuating wildly this fall:
“On a total of 25 of 91 days wind energy production in part on many occasions fell into the single or double digit megawatt range. On the evening of November 11, the most power was fed in with 2631 megawatts. Grid operator Tennet had to compensate by switching on and off conventional power plants.”
Offshore wind power was once regarded as a viable solution for providing consistent power because it was often claimed that “the wind is always blowing offshore“.
However harsh conditions, unpredictable weather, complex installation and high maintenance needs have made the cost of offshore power twice as expensive as the landscape-eyesore onshore wind energy, which also fluctuates wildly and poses other technical and health problems in addition.
It’s time to face the reality that harnessing offshore wind energy in the tempestuous North Sea is technically and economically unfeasible and thus can be only a very limited solution when it comes to energy supply.