Major Complications Emerging With Renewable Wind Power


According to two recent reports, wind power – both on land and off shore – is causing major complications and energy price increases.

A recent article in Der Spiegel, entitled “A Botched Job In Germany,” has a photo depicting “broken wind turbines and incomplete electrical transmission towers against a dark silhouette of Berlin.” Germany has had to start generating more electricity from coal in the last couple of years, as it has been unable to meet its energy needs from increased reliance on renewables.

“The Energiewende — the biggest political project since reunification — threatens to fail,” wrote Der Spiegel’s Frank Dohmen, Alexander Jung, Stefan Schultz, Gerald Traufetter in their a 5,700-word investigative story.

Over the past five years alone, the Energiewende has cost Germany €32 billion ($36 billion) annually, and opposition to renewables is growing in the German countryside.

Separately, The New York Post published a story on the growing use of offshore wind turbines to generate electricity among eastern, coastal states.

Offshore wind is the renewable-energy industry’s shiny new toy. Led by New York, seven Atlantic-coast states have now imposed mandates to expand offshore wind use over the next decade, with the Empire State last week soliciting bids for an additional 2,500 megawatts of offshore power, on top of the 1,700 megawatts procured previously.

Advocates claim offshore wind will contribute to a low-carbon future, spur an economic renaissance and create thousands of jobs. Don’t buy it. The mandates are yet another boondoggle that will benefit a well-connected few, saddling everyone else with even higher power costs.

According to this article, Rhode Island’s utility commission concluded that moving to more reliance on wind turbines would significantly increase electric costs to the consumer, however their legislature ignored this and required the utility commission to enact a 20 year contract with “Deepwater Wind.”

While the average wholesale cost of electricity for New England is about $31/MWh, the cost for electricity coming from the wind turbine offshore farms ranges from $245 to $470/MWh from the Deepwater Wind turbines – depending on the contract year, as the cost gradually increases over the course of the 20-year contract.

Another factor never really considered is that these wind turbines degrade 4.5% in terms of electrical output every year – meaning an almost 50% degradation in output over 10 years.

Additionally, as noted in the New York Post, operating costs for these wind farms is higher than expected, as is maintenance costs.

These operational realities lead to a second, even more pernicious impact: The higher-than-expected operating costs mean that the projects are likely to be abandoned prematurely, creating a cascade of costs that consumers and taxpayers will absorb.

Although the offshore projects will be developed by large, international firms headquartered in ­Europe, they are structured as single-purpose, limited-liability companies whose only assets are the turbines themselves. So when the projects are no longer profitable to operate, the owners of these LLCs can walk away, with virtually no ­financial consequences.

In short, the electrical costs from these wind turbines are proving to be at least double, and in some cases, upwards of 400% higher than electricity from other sources. The upkeep is higher, the life expectancy is shorter and the agreements made witih LLC’s do not in fact mean that that company will be resonsible for the removal of these structures once they are no longer useful – the taxpayers will shoulder that burden.