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Why Wind Power Doesn’t Live up to its Environmental Promises

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By MasterResource | Wed, 18 January 2012 01:33

“I cannot abide the suggestion that we must sacrifice our environment in order to save it. This is an absurd argument enabling this energy imposter’s invasion of delicate habitat with little return. … Environmentalists must consider the possibility that industrial wind, by its failure to perform to stated goals, does not then qualify for this sacred consideration.”

The heavily funded and admittedly effective U.S. industrial wind lobby portrays its product as descending from old-world windmills. Close your eyes and you’ll surely imagine these magnificent machines gently turning in the breeze … each kilowatt arriving at your reading lamp courtesy of a rosy–cheeked Hummel child.

Existing solely to save the planet by generating clean, affordable and environmentally friendly electricity, you can be sure that any addition to the plant owner’s bank account is purely accidental.

Hogwash!

In reality, the U.S. industrial wind business was rescued by Ken Lay and Enron with quick, low-risk profit as its core goal. As Gabriel Alonso, chief executive of Horizon Wind Energy LLC – one of America’s biggest wind developers, often reminds his employees … their goal isn’t to stage a renewable-energy revolution … “This is about making money!”

Once a Believer

I was not always this cynical. I wanted to believe that industrial wind would replace fossil fuelled power plants and, until two years ago, defended its arrival here. Like many West Virginians, I wanted the destruction of our mountains by those who profit from the blue diamond stopped … NOW!

I believed industrial wind offered the best opportunity to accomplish that goal and, even recognizing industrial wind also consumes our forest lands, it seemed an excellent alternative to the coal industry’s horribly destructive mountaintop removal mining process.

Sadly, once the layers of woulds, coulds and shoulds were peeled back, I found industrial wind failed to keep its environmental promises. Save the canned boilerplate responses to criticisms, the wind industry offered nothing conclusive to demonstrate it would significantly reduce emissions or close fossil fuelled plants. There is no conclusive evidence that one coal plant has been closed as a direct result of the installation of tens of thousands of wind turbines. Not one! I’ve asked advocates to name one facility. Answer … zippo!

I fully expect advocates to point to many studies which validate their woulds and shoulds. But the studies they point to carry their own fair share of woulds and shoulds as well.

We’re even asked to disregard the increased emissions generated by fossil fueled plants as they inefficiently try to compensate for wind’s constant variability and accept that, on their word alone, when the wind is blowing, a coal plant, somewhere, is not running. That’s equivalent to some self-appointed Giraffe Control Officer bragging that not one has been spotted in Charleston during his watch.

Consider this measure instead. US industrial wind capacity at the end of 2010 exceeded 40,000 MW. The U.S. has some 490 coal power plants with an average size of 667 MW. A direct one-to-one trade would have closed some 60 coal plants. Again … name one!

Bringing this closer to home … Edison Mission Energy is heavily invested in Appalachian coal-fired power plants even as it grows its Appalachian wind plants. Can we expect Edison to replace its fossil plants as it opens wind plants with equivalent MW capacity? Will any of the major players holding significant interest in both fossil fueled plants and wind plants make this commitment? I suggest they will not, as long as there is profit to be made from each.

The sad truth is that industrial wind does not replace fossil-fueled electricity generators. It does not reduce emissions. It does not provide affordable, on-demand electricity. The relatively miniscule amount of electricity generated typically arrives when it’s not needed and cannot effectively be stored. Industrial wind, true to Ken Lay’s intent, is a profit center founded on favorable legislation, mandated renewable energy goals and funded by taxpayer subsidies.

Conversion Experience

I did not come to the “dark side” willingly. At the suggestion of a friend, I attended a presentation on industrial wind at which the speaker systematically destroyed any notion that industrial wind has earned a seat at the US energy table.

Expecting yet another NIMBY rant, the presenter [ed. note: John Droz Jr.] instead based his case that industrial wind is a failed technology on science alone. There was little mention of view-shed, bat/bird kills, noise or health issues, all of which I’ve since learned are serious issues in their own right. The presenter focused primarily on the poor performance and high cost of industrial wind and the fact that it could never replace current generators, my main reason for initially supporting industrial wind.

Knowing that the two key representatives of our proposed wind plant were introduced as being in the audience, I could hardly wait for the question-and-answer session. This was going to be a knock down for the ages! Just wait until they set this clown straight!

Then, the presenter wrapped up and said the magic words I’d been waiting for … Any Questions? My gladiators stood up and walked out! Not a word! No defense! How could they let this brutal attack stand?

That was my turning point. Suspicion drove me to read any article I could find about industrial wind, and the more I learned the more I disliked these monstrous contraptions which were scheduled to invade my Appalachian Mountains by the tens of thousands.

What I Have Learned

Before this event, I was willing, like many of my friends, to sacrifice a mountain view, some bats and birds and even the hard earned tax dollars these wind folks would pick from my pocket if it meant the greater good would be served.

What I learned, however, lead me to the conclusion that there is no trade.

• Coal plants will continue to exist at pre-wind levels and the mines will remain open in order to supply them.
• Emissions will not be reduced as a result of industrial wind. When asked if wind power was reducing carbon emissions, Deb Malin, a Bonneville Power Authority Representative, answered, “No. They are, in fact, creating emissions.”
• Not only will the surface destruction brought about by mountain top removal mining not be reduced as a result of wind plants, industrial wind will bring destruction well above the ground in areas not previously impacted by mountain top removal.
• The cumulative impact of long stretches of deadly 450 foot tall whirlybirds along our fragile mountain ridges will set a deadly gauntlet for many migratory species with no real benefit to show for the sacrifice.
• The arguably unnecessary remote wind installations require long runs of forest fragmenting high power lines required to bring the occasional electricity generated to a point of use.
• My picked pocket only serves to benefit the wind developers.

I cannot abide the suggestion that we must sacrifice our environment in order to save it. This is an absurd argument enabling this energy imposter’s invasion of delicate habitat with little return. Sacrifice is, after all, a forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of something one considered to have a greater value or claim. Environmentalists must consider the possibility that industrial wind, by its failure to perform to stated goals, does not then qualify for this sacred consideration.

Affiliations

My comments here are my own. I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Allegheny Highlands Alliance, but do not speak for the organization in this commentary. I serve as editor of the Allegheny Treasures blog, an amateur site intended not to answer questions, but instead to stimulate discussion of industrial wind among readers, as I hope to do in this piece.

I arrived at my opinions after all consideration to the argument presented by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and other industrial wind support groups. I’ll be the first to admit I could be wrong, as I was when I supported industrial wind just two years ago. If a persuasive argument can be made to sway me back, I assure you I’ll happily move.

But I should warn you, the argument must begin with a list of coal- plant closings and not easily manipulated speculative “data.” Empty promises will not justify consuming even one more square inch of Appalachian forest.

Oh, before I’m criticized on the property rights issue … I firmly believe that you should be allowed to do anything you wish with your property as long as it brings no harm to others. But whatever you choose, don’t ask me to underwrite your adventure with my tax money in the form of subsidies, grants, or any other considerations from which you profit.

Beyond NIMBY

I am not insulted at the NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) moniker the wind advocates apply to me. I would take it one step further and suggest they call me a NOPE (not-on-planet-earth)!

I believe we are all responsible for our environment and must challenge every intrusion. We cannot accept, without question, the possibility that what has been portrayed as a solution may, in fact, create additional ills, no matter how much we want to believe.

Moving the country away from fossil fuels is one thing; choosing an alternative with no proven track record in accomplishing this effort, especially one with industrial wind’s potential for serious environmental destruction is quite another.

By. Michael Morgan

Michael Morgan is a “no party” West Virginian with a self-described “nose for nonsense.” A semi-retired Project Management and Transportation Consultant, he worked as Transportation/Materials Manager for an international manufacturer of large hydro turbine equipment and, before that, as Materials Manager with a Fortune 500 company.

“While I can’t claim to be an environmentalist,” Morgan adds, “growing up along the Allegheny Front dictates a respect for the environment and demands scrutiny of any intrusion.”

Source

Gone with the Wind Subsidies

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Nicolas Loris
December 9, 2011 at 10:52 am

The year 2012 marks a monumental yet depressing milestone for the wind energy industry: 20 years of tax credits.

The federal renewable energy production tax credit, which allows wind producers to take a 30 percent investment tax credit or receive a 2.2-cents-per-kilowatt-hour production tax credit, has been around since 1992. The tax credit expires at the end of 2012, and the wind energy advocates are already ramping up their efforts to include an extension in any end-of-the-year must-pass legislation. It’s time to let this wasteful, unnecessary subsidy run out.

The Wrong Way to Promote Technology

Let’s take it back to 1992. The parents are watching Murphy Brown, the kids are watching Full House, and people are rockin’ out to Nirvana and Dr. Dre. (Some things never change.) And wind was ready to usher in a new era of energy production. In fact, Matthew Wald wrote in a 1992 New York Times article, “A New Era for Windmill Power,” that “striking improvements in technology, the commercial use of these windmills, or wind turbines as the builders call them, has shown that in addition to being pollution free, they can now compete with fossil fuels in the cost of producing electricity.”

He went on: “Kingsley E. Chatton, president of U.S. Windpower, which operates 22 new-generation windmills here, said the economics of wind power was at the point where it ‘will compete with fossil fuel.’ Others agree.”

Twenty years of subsidies later, wind still only provides a paltry 2.3 percent of America’s electricity in 2010, and it still needs subsidies.

Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D, argues that government subsidies are obstructing innovation in the renewable-energy sector:

Operating subsidies, or installation subsidies, helps get clean energy sources installed but the problem is that current technology is not economically competitive. Everything we do needs to be done with a view toward global competitiveness. Unfortunately, because current technology is not economical relative to alternatives, it does not promote our competitiveness.

The problem is that subsidies promote technological malaise. They take away the incentive to innovate and lower cost by promoting business models geared more toward gaining favor with politicians than on technological innovation. The result is that subsidized industries quickly become dependent on government. At that point, long-term competitiveness becomes secondary to near-term survival, which is generally conditioned on more handouts.

Thus when the government support is threatened, the propped-up industry responds with pleas for more handouts. Recognizing that their survival depends more on securing subsidies than on technological innovation, subsidized industries reject such investments to the extent that they too are not subsidized by government. Hence, the vicious cycle of subsidies inevitably result in technological stagnation.

When 2.2 Cents Adds Up

That 2.2 cents doesn’t sound like much, but it is on average 40 percent of the wholesale price of electricity. Treasury says the tax credits costs taxpayers $1.5 billion annually. This is uncalled for. Not only is the nation facing $15 trillion of debt, but it already has access to ample supplies of diverse electricity sources that are perfectly capable of meeting our energy demands so long as government gets out of the way. Not only are the subsidies not needed, but they do not work. So regardless of our debt problems, taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing any energy source.

Artificially Creating Politically Preferred Jobs and More Lobbying Jobs Will Not Grow Our Economy

Wind-energy advocacy groups are on their megaphones screaming that without the extension of the tax credits, thousands of jobs will be lost. This is a half true, at best.

Subsidizing uneconomical industries, as perhaps the wind-energy tax credit has done for two decades, shifts labor and capital away from other sectors of the economy. Removing the subsidy would free up these resources to be more productive elsewhere in the U.S. economy. In the process, jobs that rely on taxpayer handouts would likely go away. But the newly available resources could then go toward the likely creation of more and better jobs.

If we produce more wind energy without subsidies, all the better, but the American Wind Energy Association says that may not be the case if the tax credit expires. Spokesman Peter Kelly said, “Industrywide we are seeing a slowdown in orders for towers and turbines after 2012 that is rippling down the supply chain and the big issue is the lack of certainty around the production tax credit that gives a favorable low tax rate to renewable energy.”

President of the Cheyenne and Laramie County economic development organization Randy Bruns echoed, “A lot of these projects, the economics change without that tax credit.”

If wind energy is not economically viable without the taxpayers’ crutch, then we’re propping up a market loser. If wind energy is a market winner, the subsidy is taking money out of the taxpayers’ wallets and putting into the hands of the wind producers. Neither case makes any sense.

Removing the government’s influence in the market reduces the need for more office space on K Street in Washington, D.C., the central hub of lobbyists. Just yesterday, Occupy Wall Street shut down K Street with protests, but they should direct their message to the root cause of lobbying—government controlling decisions that are best left for the private sector. If Occupy Wall Street is sincere in its fight against crony capitalism, it would be arguing for less government intervention into the economy, not more.

These problems will continue to persist so long as politicians continue to expand subsidies for their pet projects. When it comes to energy subsidies, we need to prevent the new and repeal the old.

That’s my 2.2 cents. I’d like to keep them in my own pocket.

Source

USA: Baryonyx’s Proposed Project to Undergo Full Environmental Impact Statement

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The Baryonyx Corporation’s proposed South Texas offshore wind farm project will be subject to a full Environmental Impact Statement, according to a decision by the Galveston District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The alternative would have been for the USACE to settle for a less stringent Environmental Assessment.

Austin-based Baryonyx, which submitted permit applications to the USACE in June, announced the agency’s decision late last month. The company has proposed developing offshore wind leases off South Padre Island and Nueces County, and has more than 67,000 acres of submerged lands under lease from the Texas General Land Office across three sites between Corpus Christi and Brownsville.

This includes nearly 48,000 acres off Cameron County, divided between two parcels Baryonyx has named “Rio Grande” and “Rio Grande North.” The company is leasing more than 26,000 acres off Nueces County for its “Mustang Project.” If fully developed, the sites taken together could generate up to 3 gigawatts of electricity. One gigawatt equals 1 billion watts.

The USACE’s decision to order a full EIS comes as no surprise to Baryonyx officials. Mark Leyland, vice president for offshore projects, said he fully expected the USACE to call for it and in fact Baryonyx welcomes the move given the magnitude of the project.

An EIS is the most thorough type of environmental review the USACE can demand. The National Environment Policy Act requires it in the case of actions “significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.” An Environmental Assessment, which is done first to assess the need for an EIS, is sometimes all that’s required in projects that may or may not cause significant impact.

Leyland said the USACE will select the third-party contractor that will conduct the EIS, and the USACE will control the process, though the contract itself will be between Baryonyx and the contractor. He added that “the process is very much the Corps’ from now on.” Leyland said that contrary to what some have asserted, taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for the EIS.

“We pay for the environmental contractor that operates under the direction of the Corps to develop the Environmental Impact Statement,” he said.

The study will examine, among other things, the potential impact on migratory birds, bats, sea turtles and other marine life. The EIS will take two years to prepare, with the final draft likely to be submitted to the USACE in the first quarter of 2014. Construction on the wind farm wouldn’t begin until 2015 at the earliest.

Leyland and other Baryonyx executives came from Eclipse Energy, a British firm that developed the Ormonde wind farm project in the Irish Sea. That project, nearing completion, uses the largest wind turbines available, rated at 5 megawatts each though capable of producing more, according to Leyland. One megawatt equals 1 million watts.

Baryonyx’s Texas projects would use the same turbines on a much larger scale. The Ormonde Project calls for 30 turbines on 2,500 acres. Baryonyx’s Rio Grande and Rio Grande South leases, totaling roughly 41,00 acres, would feature rows of more than 300 turbines, each set of 50 taking two years to build. Leyland said turbines would be located no nearer than five miles from the coast, still close enough for them to be seen.

In a press release, Leyland expressed confidence that the EIS would confirm the company’s initial investigations, which concluded the wind farm project “would not result in an unacceptable impact on wildlife and other resources.”

“We believe that the thorough, scientific approach required by the EIS process will verify our preliminary findings,” he said.

By Steve Clark (brownsvilleherald)

Source

Wind Farm Grave Yards

Abandoned wind farms in Hawaii dot the Islands.

According to recent estimates, there are currently 14,000 abandoned wind farms dotting the landscape in the U.S.

Hawaii, for example, has 37 abandoned wind turbines at one site and there are five other abandoned wind sites in the Hawaiian Islands.

In California, there are thousands of such abandoned sites, including Altamont Pass, Techachapin and San Gorgonio — all considered perfect spots for wind turbines.

So, what happened? Well, first off, birds get killed by these huge machines and the PETA crowd goes insane. The Altamont site, for example, is shut down four months out of the year to protect migrating birds. Second, when government subsidies stop, the projects die. Third, wind power has proven to be unreliable as a consistent source of power. There’s either too little wind, too much wind, or it’s too cold to operate them.

In Britain, the energy industry admitted as long ago as 2008 that wind turbines are idle up to 30% of the time because of the unreliability of the wind. A report from the British Renewable Energy Foundation at the time describes the economically disastrous wind turbine industry.

It is unlikely that the Obama Administration will let facts get in the way of their war against fossil fuels and their love affair with solar and wind power. Expect more taxpayer dollars to be flushed down the rat hole of solar and wind boondoggles. Expect to see more abandoned wind farms in the future — as long as Obama remains in office and the EPA is run by the climate alarmist zealot Lisa Jackson.

Related posts:

  1. Dutch Are Falling Out Of Love With Wind Farm Subsidies
  2. Five Problems with Wind Power
  3. Wind Farm Project In Washington Killed Over Endangered Sea Bird
  4. Wind Farms Disrupting Radar, Scientists Say
  5. What Happens When Wind Farm Freaks Clash With Bat Freaks?

Source

USA: Battle Between Virginia’s Offshore Wind and Oil Drilling

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The Obama administration’s proposal to exclude Virginia from offshore drilling exploration has angered many top politicians in the commonwealth who view drilling as a potential source of jobs. But the decision has reinvigorated environmentalists’ arguments that there’s more to gain from wind power.

So how do the two actually compare? Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell points to $250 million annually in revenue sharing payments from potential offshore oil and gas leases. “And more than 1,900 jobs could be created,” says Jeff Caldwell, McDonnell’s press secretary.

As for offshore wind, the environmental group Oceana says there could be tens of thousands of jobs created by offshore wind farms in Virginia.

”We could be talking about as many as 17,000 jobs in operations and maintenance,” says Oceana’s Jackie Savitz. “And in terms of construction, we’re talking about another 30,000 jobs.”

So for wind power, there could be many more jobs, but maybe less state revenue. Savitz says those jobs would materialize only if the supply chain for wind farms is based in Virginia — as opposed to another state or another country.

”It’s really a matter of who gets there first,” says McDonnell and former Gov. Tim Kaine have called for a combination of oil and renewables including wind, but Savitz says there’s a problem with that.

“When you try to do both, they end up competing with each other,” she says. “They need some of the same parts, same ships. It drives costs up.”

Not so, argues Tim Ryan, president of wind developer Apex Wind in Charlottesville, Va.

Hampton Roads is a tremendous resource in terms of shipyards, dock areas, manufacturing capabilities,” Ryan says. “There are plenty of opportunities to do offshore wind and offshore oil and gas.”

The real barrier to wind isn’t drilling, Ryan adds. Instead, it’s expiring federal incentives and a lack of state incentives in Virginia.

And, of course there is more to compare than money and jobs, add the environmentalists. While oil pollutes, wind does not, they say.

By: Sabri Ben-Achour (wamu)

Source

UK: SeaEnergy Publishes ‘Past Laurels, Emerging Offshore Wind Energy Service Sector Bode Well’

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The management has an excellent track record of establishing businesses from the concept stage and adding value for shareholders

SeaEnergy PLCs (earlier Ramco Energy PLC) strategic approach to growth entails entering new businesses at an early stage when the need for capital is low and exiting these ventures when the right value is attained. The company, which was incorporated with focus on oil services, evolved into| an energy investment company with interest in oil and gas assets. SeaEnergy is currently also focusing on the development of its offshore wind service business, SeaEnergy Marine. In line with its strategy, the company has successfully monetized its business interests in the past. It liquidated its 2.0825% interest in the Azeri Chirag Guneshli (ACG) field in Azerbaijan for USD150 million during 2000 and divested its 80.13% stake in SeaEnergy Renewables Limited (SERL) for a cash consideration of £38.6 million in 2011.

SeaEnergy Marine – Banking on the promising offshore wind energy services sector

SeaEnergy is venturing into services related to the installation, operation and maintenance (O&M), and support of wind turbines through SeaEnergy Marine. It will stand out in terms of efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Offshore wind capacity in Europe is estimated to rise from 2.6GW at the end of 2010 to 43.3GW by 2020. This is likely to create massive demand for vessels that can facilitate the installation and O&M of wind turbines. The industry is currently facing a dearth of right-fit vessels that can execute these activities efficiently. For instance, wind farm owners in UK currently depend on workboats that operate at a maximum wave height of 1.5 meters and at a distance of 60 miles from shore, severely limiting their usefulness for wind farms now in development. The huge gap between demand and supply reflects the opportunities for growth in the offshore wind energy sector.

SeaEnergy Marine – A one-stop-shop for offshore energy sector

SeaEnergy Marine plans to integrate all services that offshore wind farm owners/developers may require. The company’s state-of-the-art vessels will shorten the installation cycle and increase accessibility for O&M. In addition, SeaEnergy Marine’s vessels will offer these services at very competitive rates, making the economics of operation quite favourable for its customers.

Past experience, established business model increase probability of success

SeaEnergy Marine benefits from the management’s experience in the offshore wind energy sector, especially the exposure gained while working with SERL. Moreover, the business model is well established. SeaEnergy Marine is also actively submitting tenders for contracts with major offshore wind companies.

The Discounted Cash Flow approach yielded a fair value of GBp50.5 per share, based on a cost of equity at 14.48%, inclusive of an additional risk premium of 8% as the company is still in the inception phase. As the marine business will gradually materialise, the additional premium will be faded out over time , providing further upside. In addition, our fair value excludes current (and further) upside from the O&G assets.

Original Article

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