Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Green Junk: 15k Abandoned Windmills Litter the Landscape; Symbols of a Dying Climate Religion

Abandoned windmills in Hawaii, click to enlarge.
From Alex Newman writing in the New American:
Despite billions in taxpayer subsidies pumped into the so-called “green-energy” industry, almost 15,000 windmills — maybe more — have been left to rot across America. And while the turbines have been abandoned over a period of decades, the growing amount of “green junk” littering the American landscape is back in the headlines again this week.

Across the country, subsidized wind farms are meeting increasing resistance — and not just from taxpayers and electricity consumers forced to foot the bill. "If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place?” wondered Heritage Foundation policy analyst Ben Lieberman, who deals with energy and environmental issues. “It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end."

It turns out that wind power is expensive and inefficient even in the best wind-farm locations in the world. And regular power plants always need to be on standby in case there is no wind, not enough wind, or even too much of it — a fairly regular occurrence.

That is why, when the tax subsidies run out, the towering metallic structures are often simply abandoned. In their wake: a scarred landscape and dead wildlife — the very same ills offered as justifications by administration officials for preventing oil exploration.

“There are many hidden truths about the world of wind turbines from the pollution and environmental damage caused in China by manufacturing bird choppers,” noted environmental blogger Tory Aardvark in a recent post about wind farms, also citing the dangerous noise produced by turbines. He added,

"The symbol of Green renewable energy, our savior from the non existent problem of "Global Warming," abandoned wind farms are starting to litter the planet as globally governments cut the subsidies taxes that consumers pay for the privilege of having a very expensive power source that does not work every day for various reasons like it’s too cold or the wind speed is too high."

Tory Aardvark called the more than 14,000 abandoned wind turbines in the U.S. symbols of a “dying Climate Religion.”
Note: This type of renewable energy can only be produced by mixing wind with your tax dollars. And when the tax dollars dry up, the turbines stop.

20 Comments:

At 11/30/2011 6:40 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Note: This type of renewable energy can only be produced by mixing wind with your tax dollars. And when the tax dollars dry up, the turbines stop.

It isn't just wind. Solar, ethanol, biomass, shale gas, etc., are all huge losers at current production costs. Eventually the fiancing and subsidies will stop and the only projects standing will be those that can self-finance.

 
At 11/30/2011 7:10 PM, Blogger Marko said...

I have an idea, why not convert some coal powered steam turbines to just burn dollar bills instead? I mean, the money is being hoarded by the rich 1% that controls 40% of the wealth, so why not just take it from them and shovel it right into the turbines? When that runs out, the Fed can just print some more! Green enough for ya?

 
At 11/30/2011 7:14 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Marko-

You can't get those Ben Franklins. The US military grinds up fresh $100s and makes them into paint, or weaves them together for camo uniforms.

I think they also burn $100s (Fisher-Troph process) to make fuel.

 
At 11/30/2011 7:20 PM, Blogger Marko said...

Benji, I would suggest forking environmentalists into those generators next, but only as a joke. Even idiots don't deserve to die that way.

 
At 11/30/2011 7:25 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"I would suggest forking environmentalists into those generators next, but only as a joke. Even idiots don't deserve to die that way"...

Yes they do...

 
At 11/30/2011 7:36 PM, Blogger juandos said...

From Bill Frezza writting in the op/ed section of Forbes: Watching The Wheels Come Off The Green Machine

The body count continues to rise as the Green Jobs Revolution sputters its way to the end of a disastrous 2011. Few seemed to notice last week when the electric vehicle maker A123 Systems—poster child for successful clean tech investing—“temporarily” laid off 125 workers at its flagship manufacturing plants in Michigan on the eve of the Thanksgiving media break. It also reduced its earnings guidance for 2011 by $45 million, because its anchor customer, Fisker Automotive, “unexpectedly” delayed the production ramp-up for its Karma luxury electric car—again...

There's more...

 
At 11/30/2011 11:08 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

VangelV believes shale gas is a "huge loser."

Here's what a skeptic says (New York Times):

Shale Gas

"The Barnett in Texas, the Haynesville in East Texas and Louisiana and the Fayetteville, across Arkansas — less than 20 percent of the area heralded by companies as productive is emerging as likely to be profitable under current market conditions, according to the data and industry analysts.

Gas is currently going for $4.38/MCF (thousand cubic feet, or MMBTU). Most shale gas wells are losers, or only break-even at that price. However, if gas were to rise into the $6-$8 range, the profitability picture changes considerably."

My comment: Gas hit $14 a few years ago.

 
At 12/01/2011 1:46 AM, Blogger Don Culo said...

There seems to be an endless supply of hot air for the wind-mills in this blog's comment section.

 
At 12/01/2011 6:47 AM, Blogger geoih said...

I saw this seven years ago on South Point of the Big Island of Hawaii. Rows of giant windmills idle and in pieces.

 
At 12/01/2011 9:37 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

My comment: Gas hit $14 a few years ago.

Let us keep things simple.

Your reference agrees that gas is a loser at current prices.

Your argument is that if gas goes way up in price the shale gas industry can be profitable.

But here is my counter argument.

The current production is taking place in the best spots of the shale formations.

The production curves are showing that well depletion is running at 75-90% per year.

To keep production growing you need to do enough drilling to offset the depletion and to create new supply that is coming from less productive areas.

But the huge demand for more drilling will increase the drill costs due to a number of factors.

Future contracts will demand more money as the supply of rigs and drill crews trails demand. To keep production going up the drilling costs will have to go up by enough to finance the building of new drill rigs and the training of new drill crews.

But the cost of drilling also includes the energy needed to make the materials that go into making the rigs, the energy needed to assemble the rigs, and the energy needed to transport the rigs. In a rising energy cost environment such as the one that is being predicted the non-labour costs of manufacturing and operating drills will go up. As will the transport costs of the product.

The big issues that the optimists are missing are depletion, the energy return on the energy invested, and the variation of formation quality within shale producing areas.

Let us begin with depletion. If you look at the production data you see that the stated EURs are about twice the actual ultimate recoveries. That means that the depreciation cost is underestimated and that the breakeven figures being thrown around are too low.

If we move on to the EROEI, we find that for marginal shale producing areas the total energy invested in drilling the wells, extracting the natural gas, and pressurizing and transporting it comes out to less than the total energy extracted from that natural gas.

The last issue that I want to look at before I end this comment is the lack of uniformity in shale formations. If you look at the data you see a few very nice formations that can be profitable while most are marginal at best. As pointed out above, the problem for the optimists is that much of the production in the core areas is taking place when prices are low and the supply from those core areas is helping to keep the prices below the cost of production. A price increase will take place when most of the core areas have seen their best days behind them. The best candidates in the next tier areas need higher break even prices but the marginal production will still generate a loss.

The process will continue until investors figure out that this is just a replay of previous shale booms and that the low energy density of shale means that profitability is still a long way away.

 
At 12/01/2011 9:41 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

One would think there would be a big recycling campaign on these things. The fact that there isn't suggests that the dispersed nature of this resource is a major cost problem that has been insufficiently recognized.

The same geographical dispersion problem affects all of the processes VangeIV mentions.

Vange is mostly correct onthe subsidies issue, bu the fact remains that conventional power also gets big subsidies. If you had a truly equal system level cost analysis,then alternative fuels look nowhere near as bad as Vange paints them.

Still bad, but not that bad.

 
At 12/01/2011 9:54 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Vange is mostly correct onthe subsidies issue, bu the fact remains that conventional power also gets big subsidies. If you had a truly equal system level cost analysis,then alternative fuels look nowhere near as bad as Vange paints them.

Still bad, but not that bad.


Add up all of the direct taxes paid by the industry and take away direct subsidies and you have a clear picture. There is no 'subsidy' for conventional sources. Being able to write off your costs is legitimate in business so classifying writing off of depletion as a subsidy is not legitimate.

 
At 12/01/2011 9:59 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

VangelV says: "Your reference agrees that gas is a loser at current prices."

A loser for who?

Consumers may gain now.

Producers may gain later.

Investors may eventually gain the most.

 
At 12/01/2011 11:56 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Add up all of the direct taxes paid by the industry and take away direct subsidies and you have a clear picture.

================================

Yes, a truly equal system analysis would include all of that, for each system.

Alternative systems are promoted as a way of preventing external costs associated with conventional energy production, but alternative systems have hidden costs of their own:

Hidden Costs Of Energy Production And Use

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091019122835.htm

 
At 12/01/2011 12:08 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Blue Skies, High Anxiety
The American
The American Enterprise Institute
May/June 2007 Issue

Americans are driving more miles, using more energy, and producing more goods and services than ever. But at the same time, the air quality in America’s cities is better than it has been in more than a century—despite the fact that the U.S. population has almost quadrupled and real GDP has risen by a factor of nearly thirty.

Much of what Americans think they know about air pollution is false. Through exaggeration and sometimes even outright fabrication, the main purveyors of the story—journalists, government regulators, environmentalists, and even health scientists—have created public fear out of all proportion to the actual risks.

Between 1980 and 2005, average levels of air pollution fell between 20 percent and 96 percent, depending on the pollutant.

For example, sulfur dioxide, which results mainly from the burning of coal and the smelting of some metals, is down 63 percent, while carbon monoxide, the vast majority of which comes from automobiles, is down 74 percent. At the same time, coal usage increased more than 60 percent and miles of driving nearly doubled.

Virtually the entire nation now meets federal standards for sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead.

The country is also near full compliance for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s older standards for ozone (the “one-hour” standard) and particulate matter (the “PM10” standard for airborne particulate matter less than ten micrometers in diameter).

 
At 12/01/2011 3:57 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

A loser for who?

For investors in those wells who want to make money from the production of gas.

Consumers may gain now.

I agree. But for production to be sustainable they have to pay a lot more for the gas that is being produced.

Producers may gain later.

Perhaps. But selling your best product at a huge loss while you run down reserves is not a path to success. The best strategy would be to sell to conventional producers that can use a way to hide reserve losses because the accounting games that SEC rules permit provide the highest value for shale reserves at this time.

Investors may eventually gain the most.

Perhaps. But at this time they are selling their best assets at a loss. That will matter eventually.

 
At 12/01/2011 4:08 PM, Blogger Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

I think it is also worth noting that existing windmills were not economical in the state with the most expensive electricity prices in America (24.1 cents/kwh). By comparison, most states are less than 10 cents/kwh. data.

 
At 12/01/2011 4:08 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

But at the same time, the air quality in America’s cities is better than it has been in more than a century

===============================

For that, you can thank the regulations banning leaded gas and requiring cataalytic converers.

I can remember when one would drive over a hill where a local landmark should be visible and it was nearly always shrouded in smog. That seldom happens today, and partly because the gas we burn today is 10% ethanol.

Sulfur dioxide is down substantially thanks to the cap and trade rules put in place. Carbon monoxide from autos is down becasue we traded it for the production of more carbon dioxide and more nitrogen oxides as a result of higher combustion temperatures needed to reduce unburned hydrocarbons (plus 10% ethnol).

It seems to me that you are correct, we have come a long way in cleaning up our air, which woud be much worse were it not for the standards we imposed.

But it is wrong to say that air pollution is not a hazard, just because we cleaned up that hazard. It is true that some people will never be content, and they will, as you suggest, use scare tactics exaggeration etc. to continue a campaign of creeping regulatory excess in search of a faulty goal of zero pollution.

Such a goal will cost far more than it saves, and since money is a proxy for resources used, a goal of zero pollution is not even a goal that is green.

That said, there are pollutants that are dangersous and cost us money. Places a that are clean today may not be tomorrow. Assuming that we have "solved the problem" and need not worry about it any more could be just as costly and wasteful as solving "too much" of the problem.

Pollution costs money, and cleaning up or preventing pollution costs money, we just need to strike the right balance. Too much of either one wastes money, and waste is never green.

 
At 12/01/2011 7:50 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Rows of giant windmills idle and in pieces"...

Yep! Consider the following: Broken Wind Turbine Blades Create Mountainous Waste Problem

Ultra-green Denmark admits it has no idea what to with a worrisome mountain of old and broken wind turbine blades. The composite material can’t be recycled

 
At 12/01/2011 9:50 PM, Blogger VangelV said...


For that, you can thank the regulations banning leaded gas and requiring cataalytic converers.


Wrong. The pollution levels were going down long before the standards were set. The trend did not change after the EPA started to get into the picture. And the catalytic converters were a lousy idea. Honda had engines that ran cleaner than the engines with catalytic converters. Had the Clean Air act stuck with regulating the output rather than stating the mechanism the outcome would have been better.

And note that GM lobbied for the converters because it owned the patent and would benefit greatly if its less efficient method were adopted by the government.

http://conservationfinance.wordpress.com/2007/01/17/bruce-yandle-on-bootleggers-and-baptists/

 

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