Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.
Display:
There seems to be a problem with many of the Obama stimulus proposals that remaining industry simply doesn't have the capacity to crank up production quickly enough to spend the sort of money being bandied about as being required for stimulus purposes.

Do you have any data on what level of windpower capacity increase the industry can actually achieve in the short term?  Obviously longer term, industrial capacity will increase - but the stimulus requirement is precisely for a very short term boost to economic activity to counter the current recession.

I'm all for long term structural infrastructural enhancement accelerating as capacity increases - but how efficient and capable is the wind industry in terms of turning the US economy around within a 3/4 year electoral; cycle?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 07:46:13 PM EST
... does not actually require including direct spending on Wind Turbines within the stimulus bill ... what the US Wind Industry needs, as the diary argues, is the ability to plan on a long term expansion path ... the constant on-off really hammers a skills and capital intensive industry.

A start on the needed Electricity Super-highway is in the Stimulus bill ... to get the most bang for the buck, we need to follow it up with either an effective strong Minimum Portfolio Standard or a feed-in tariff.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 08:31:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I appreciate all that, but the impression I got elsewhere (I forget the source) is that the amount of money being set aside for wind energy in the stimulus Bill simply cannot be spent in the next few years because the industry, collectively, does not have the capacity to expand at such a rate.  Obviously, longer term, that won't be a problem.  What is a problem is if the industry is too small to make a large contribution to stimulating the economy in the next 2 years.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 08:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the largest wind-related item I find in the Appropriations Committee Report on the stimulus bill:
Section 5006 provides the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) increased borrowing authority in the amount of $3.25 billion to assist in building critical infrastructure to facilitate renewable and energy efficiency projects. Of the 6,417 megawatts of transmission requests pending before BPA, 4,700 megawatts are for interconnecting wind projects. This effort should complement, and not diminish, significant private sector transmission construction efforts currently contemplated in the service territory of BPA. (pp.33-4)

Our physical ability to build transmission interconnects is part of the productive resources left idle in the collapse of the construction sector.

There's also:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Construction
Recovery funding: $300 million
The backlog of deferred maintenance and construction needs at the National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries is well documented and tracked and prioritized in the Service Asset and Maintenance Management System (SAMMS). The current backlogged needs identified in the SAMMS total more than $3 billion. These projects are typically accomplished with local  contractors and it is estimated that this funding will generate 11,000 jobs, primarily in local, rural communities that are near national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. These funds will allow the completion of deferred maintenance and capital improvement plan projects, focusing on critical assets, safety issues, energy efficiency, and habitat infrastructure. New construction and major rehabilitation will emphasize cost-effective, renewable energy principles and construction such as solar photovoltaic systems, geothermal energy, wind energy and efficiency
improvements. (p. 39)

However, as far as I am aware, this is more off-the-grid remote power applications than utility grade windpower, so would not stress existing wind-power capacity ...

And there is also this:

Department of Defense Energy Research Recovery funding: $350 million
$350 million is provided to the Department of Defense only for the funding of research, development, test and evaluation projects, including pilot projects, for improvements in energy generation, transmission, regulation, storage, and use on military installations to include research and development of energy from fuel cells, wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources to include biofuels and bioenergy. (pp. 26-7)

So it sounds to me more like the present Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt strategy of the Republicans spreading misleading interpretation of the recent CBO report and attaching it to whatever targets of opportunity present themselves.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 10:16:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
on devices is a minor point at present. Jerome's point about government policy viz. tariff and tax is more important. The spending for machines is exploding in all of the high-value resource areas, such as the Oregon/Washington border, east of the Cascades. The banks may be constipated, but energy, manufacturing, and newly-formed operating companies are making deals and finding funds at boom rates out here.

I was in a meeting two weeks ago, where the discussion was focused on: 1) a new grid system to handle 'green' energy for certification and transmission efficiency purposes; and 2) off-peak pumping of water into uphill storage for peak-hour generation via hydro-turbines. (Turns out that Sherman County, OR ran a geological/geographical survey in 1961 to map likely storage areas. The rep from there had to search the archives in the basement of his county's courthouse to find the records.)

Vestas is on a fast-track to build manufacturing capacity here. In addition our community college in The Dalles, OR has a three-year-old Renewable Energy Technician program (concentration is wind energy) which Vestas and Ibendrola (sp?) is raiding for employees after they've taken just the introductory courses.

Oregon and WA both have initiative-inspired legislation on the books requiring something like 20% of well-defined renewable-energy-sourced generation by 2020. It is, as we say, 'balls to the wall'.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:34:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While I would rank feed-in tariffs as more effective than a minimum portfolio standard, it does seem that we are going to be able to get a minimum portfolio standard through, and given the abundance of the resource and direct federal support for transmission capacity, then a minimum portfolio standard ought to be "good enough" to keep expansion of capaciy on track.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 01:21:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Arkansas the growth rate of new wind power manufacturing facilities has been slowed by the lack of availability of funding.  SWEPCO and Entergy both have been purchasing the output of Texas panhandle wind farms, but they do not have adequate or dedicated transmission facilities for this power and so must bid in competitive auctions for transmission on existing pathways.  It should be noted that a new pathway through Oklahoma to, say, Fayetteville or even Springfield, MO would be a major step in enabling the sale of West Texas wind power to mid west buyers, in addition to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 11:27:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And across New Mexico to Phoenix and then Southern Cali. Amarillo (eg) to Phoenix is 600 miles, and Amarillo / Phoenix / LA is under 1,000.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 11:46:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks guys, for your research.  It appears I was misinformed.  I had no doubt that there were a lot of "shovel ready" projects held up by funding constraints, and also that there was a lot of unused capacity in the construction sector.  

My concern was more specific to the wind power industry and that bottle necks or unavoidably long construction times might occur in specific specialist areas - e.g. turbine manufacture, critical smart grid components, completion of new power lines - which would constrain the ability of the industry to produce a major expansion of wind capacity in the next 2 years.

Obviously any such under-capacity would be as a direct consequence of the "stop-go" regulatory and financial  regime for wind power identified by Jerome above and the chronic lack of vision of the Bush regime.  

The irony is that the richest wind power resources often seem to be in Republican States.  Now that the DEMS have abandoned their 50 state electoral strategy perhaps they could inaugurate a 50 state energy strategy which might be just as good at harvesting votes in red areas in due course!


notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 07:16:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only one of the richest wind resrouce states were "deep red" in 2008 ... Montano North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Texas were all lighter shades of red than in 2000/2004, and Montana and North Dakota would qualify as "purple" with the same reckoning as used going into 2008.

And there is definitely a tension between the western style of "conservatism" and the southern style of "conservatism" that can be most usefullly wedged if there is some good old fashioned parochial interests going along with it.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 01:18:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would not look forward to selling much Texas wind power outside of Texas. The Texas grid is almost completely isolated from the rest of the country, on purpose. The west Texas electricity will mostly be sent to Dallas, Houston, Austin, etc., even though plenty of out-of-state cities are much closer.

Amarillo to Denver: 574 km
Amarillo to Houston: 855 km

Amarillo is in the middle of the pink area on the wind map below.

http://www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/re_wind-transmission.htm

by asdf on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:33:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not so sure about your hypothesis as regards the future.  There are many plans to link the Texas grid, and rightly so.  whther they happen or not???

special corridors transmitting wind in Texas are already under construction planning.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 03:19:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that the Texas electric grid is almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the U.S., and that the regulations are set up to maintain that situation. There are a lot of projects WITHIN Texas to improve their system, but I have not heard of a change in attitude that would help other states.

Texas gets most of its power from natural gas, but is actively working to build a substantial wind infrastructure.

by asdf on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 06:54:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My May 2008 article on wind power was written after I attended a conference on supply problems in the industry, so you'll find a lot of details there. Also, follow some of the links. Basically, the U.S. is able to produce just over half the content of a large wind turbine. There are two critical areas: gearboxes, which are self-destructing after just 4 or 5 years, instead of the design life of 20 to 25 years; and transformers, which must all be imported into the U.S. as there is no domestic producer. As of May 2008, there were an amazing number of new production facilities being planned for the U.S., especially in Iowa and Minnesota, which are close to the wind-rich central plains.

Can the U.S. achieve 20% wind energy by 2030?
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/5/14/17722/3424/955/515691

by NBBooks on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:01:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's some potential political logic to that.  The wind industry, at least as far as I understand it (not a whole helluva lot, admittedly), impacts a lot of states that we don't have Dems in.  Texas and Oklahoma, to take two obvious examples.  So I think the wind power can be used to gain broader support for the bill.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 08:42:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... and even NW Iowa, which is part of the Dakotas wind resource, is a generally Republican part of the state.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 10:18:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For transmission projects through Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas as well as for wind farm projects in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles as well as in western Kansas this is a perfect opportunity to build a coalition by providing Republicans representing those areas with a way to bring home the bacon by supporting wind projects.  The money to build the farms and the transportation infrastructure would have to be spent in their states and districts.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 at 11:32:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama and Coburn have had a good working relationship on various transparency issues in the past as well, if I'm not mistaken.  Getting Coburn to the table on it would likely be fairly easy.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 08:48:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great diary jerome, you master bloggeur you!

Frank Schnittger:

I'm all for long term structural infrastructural enhancement accelerating as capacity increases - but how efficient and capable is the wind industry in terms of turning the US economy around within a 3/4 year electoral; cycle?

they could make enough good faith progress in 2-3 years to show bankable (wink, nudge) potential, right?

it's capable of snowballing, especially if a fashion item. personally i think the toy industry should get behind it, mini windmills for kids, lego, whatever...

:)

didm't FDR put up all those well windmills you can still see rusting out on the prairies?

i remember seeing a cover on co-evolution quarterly, stewart brand's periodical, showing a pic of L.A. rooves in the 1920's, bristling with solar water heaters!

which, btw, should be right up there with home insulation and windmills, when you consider how much energy is carbonised heating water for daily needs.

massive blind spot...

#47484959678

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 02:35:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
which, btw, should be right up there with home insulation and windmills,

A lot more scope for wind turbines than for windmills ... electricity is a lot easier to transport over large distances than mechanical power.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 06:52:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But any intermittent, small driver could be a candidate for a direct wind turbine.  Water pumping, industrial gas production, etc.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 07:14:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, if it happens to be in an area with sufficient wind resource for the need ... and the advantage of the wind turbine is that the much greater portability of electricity means that an area with a good wind resource for a direct mechanical load will often also have a good wind resource for a 1MW+ utility grade wind turbine, where the mechanical load can be driven electrically with a substantial surplus to sell to the grid.

The application where you do not care so much how abundant the wind resource is, provided there is some usable resource, is a remote from the grid demand that can use an intermittent source ... and the remote applications will naturally be a small portion of total energy consumption.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 09:53:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking you could run an icehouse on a wind turbine even with 25% availability.  Or a chilled water plant.  Or even municipal water pumps, if the locality has enough water tower capacity.  If you want to save power, you have to go where it's used, even if it's cities.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 10:16:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... that is 500 miles away that has twice the wind energy available, it makes sense to site a wind farm there, and to bring the electricity to the user that can use intermittently available power, by offering a discount to use power when its more abundant.

On the one hand, doing it that way there is less total intermittency, since access to a greater variety of intermittent energy sources results in a higher minimum amount of power available (as well as lower maximum amount) per user ... connect wind farms from multiple wind regions together, and it is much less intermittent than an individual windmill driving an individual use.

And on the other hand, doing it that way means a much greater range of potential variable demand users ... once the ability is in place to do time of day metering and transmit availability of time of day discounts - the widely discussed "SmartGrid" technology ... all users that can benefit from varying demand to match supply have an incentive to do so.

Both in the US and the EU, we already have substantial swing production on many grids in the form of the main hydropower generators, which are already used to dispatch their available power when it is most valuable. And tying together grids to reduce the aggregate volatility of volatile energy sources also means that readily dispatchable renewable power is more broadly shared.

That alone is the basis, in the analysis in the US DoEnergy report, for effectively accommodating 20% wind power by 2020 (that is not a maximum, of course ... the task of the report was to report on the feasibility of 20% by 2020). And, of course, that does not constrain the ability of the grid to take up other volatile, "use it or lose it" energy sources, provided they are not highly positively correlated with fluctuations in availability of wind energy.

It follows that greater demand flexibility would allow accommodating additional wind power, over and above the amount allowed by nationwide (US) / unionwide (EU) Electricity Superhighways and existing hydro resources and the balance of dispatchable generating capacity.

Further down the track, we can imagine the combination of solar thermal heat collection and heat collection from the exhaust of the first stage of gas turbines stored as heat in molten salts that are used for thermal power generation that can be more readily tailored to peak demand loads in the context of the cycle. The availability of substantial hydro power capacity and substantial responsive demand means that if we are getting supply matched to demand on an eight hour cycle, the ability to fine tune to availability of volatile power sources and non-responsive energy demands is already in the system.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 10:52:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can find the greatest detail about all the questions at AWEA's 20% by2030 website.

Under the Report tab, each chapter is a separate .pdf.  This report, released in Q1 or Q2 2008 is damn authoritative, and includes sections on manufacturing capacity and transmission needs in detail.

While i can find points of disagreement, as a policy foundation document this is top shelf.

I've got a plate full today, but windpower capacity growth globally has been nearly 25% a year, 20% minus China which is wild and not yet mature.  All of the majors and 2nd tier manufacturers have made significant CapEx, and have experience establishing new manufacturing plant.  Nordex was able to expand 50% last year with no quality penalty.

The short answer is that a coherent long-term policy allows well-planned CapEx, with very significant annual expansion.   The raw materials are there as well, from steel and concrete to carbon fiber, as documented in the report.  Slowdown in shipbuilding will help the industry greatly, as currently heavy S. Korean forges are already producing the major castings for multi-megawatt turbines.

It's a global expansion, and it's beautiful to watch (and influence.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 03:41:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Doable, if someone really wants to.

Everything except for the actual blades was made in the U.S. at one time or another.  Start spending on manufacturing facilities.  It's going to be easier to do that with wind power than any alternative.

by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wouldn't the process of cranking up production be perfectly adequate for the purposes of economic stimulus?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:20:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Its simply a question of time and scale.  A 50% increase on a small base is still not going to have much of a stimulus effect on the whole economy in the short term if your key priority is to turn the whole economy around in the next year or two.  

Of course a 50% p.a. increase compounded over a few years will have a massive medium/long term effect even if the initial base is a very small % of GDP as a whole.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:29:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're assuming a normal business growth curve. Is that necessarily jusitfied? Does a rush programme need to follow that?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... normal business curve ... that is a rush programme.

There is supporting infrastructure ... the construction of transmission infrastructure ... that is possible to front-load by putting it into the stimulus, precisely because the existing productive capacity is greater, and with the collapse of new residential and commercial construction, there is substantial unemployed capacity.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 09:56:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You aim for a 500% increase happening in a few years.  Pick one or two turbine designs, and start building factories.  If we can't manage to build more than one factory at a time we're doomed anyway.  Meantime you site the turbines and start hiring construction crews to do the civil work.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 09:59:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to mention setting up training programmes so people have the required skills when the factories and so on are ready.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:02:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in answer to many of the questions and comments...

Here's the 20% Summary.

Regarding training, community colleges began windsmith training programs in windy regions around the country.  i am aware of perhaps a dozen which have been operating for minimally several years, and some longer.  They get older turbines from manufacturers to train, and are accorded visiting rights to existing modern wind parks.

Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota, West Texas...  In addition, the need for high level engineering must be expanded, but the premier engineering courses, leading even to a full Ph.D program, remains centered at UMass Amherst.  (Begun in the early 70's by my mentor, Bill Heronemus, affectionately the Captain, for his work as Chief Designer for the Nautilus class of nuclear submarine, directly under Adm.m Rickover.  Many of the leading engineers heading programs at both companies and research labs like NREL came from this program.  Of course more are needed.)

Like the Apollo program, it's not really a question of resources, rather a question of political will, particularly in amurka.  the global European companies have been expanding quite well on their own, providing all the data needed to scale up further globally.

right now windpower is more about taking decision-making away from bankers experienced in quarterly results, operating either from greed in the good times or fear in the bad.  There's nothing rational going on in terms of project lending, but I can say that there are hundreds of hedge funds examining investment along the supply chain as we speak, funds that couldn't spell wind last September.


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:28:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The one fly in the U.S. part of the ointment is the lack of Feed-In Laws in this country. The expansion in the wind business that would result if this occurred would be quite amazing. Bankers (some of them a bunch of low-life gamblers, and others who are competent - a mixed bag) would love the relative low risk nature of making loans to developers who would actually have known cash-flows for 20 years. Unions and communities would love it for the expanding source of jobs. Jobs are good, especially these jobs. Businesses who supply parts and expertise would love a market actually growing and not that undergoing that horrible Sinfeldian term of "shrinkage". Etc.

But, we have a bunch of buttheads who are often part of the Environmental community (NRDC is one example), or who head up AWEA, or are the politicians and regulators who need to pass the laws/implement regulations that would allow FIT's to be one of the choices (the others are the MACRS/PTC tax subsidy approach) for wind turbine operations (and thus installation). These are just more snowdrifts that need to be moved out of the way, but it would be nice if they got on board with Paul Gipe, instead of fighting him so much. There is also quite the legal cottage industry which does the significant machinations needed to convert "active income" into "passive income", or which lines up those with tax appetite (for up to 10 years into the future, no less - quite a feat of prediction in this new era) to developers. The fear that electricity prices might rise for a while (until you get to the wind turbine Feed-In Tariff level) strikes fear into regulators and politicians. Of course, Peak Oil, Peak Ngas and Europe's lust for relatively cheap Appalachian coal (we kill mountains for furriners so they can have coal real cheap, or at least relatively cheap) will raise those anyway, and far in excess of what wind FITs will do. But as Homer the Wise likes to say - "Doh!"

There are efforts in Michigan, now Indiana, Minnesota, possibly Illinois and New York, and maybe California to allow FIT laws to be a part of the wind scene. So it would be really nice for at least some states to turn from the Dark Side of electricity price gambling, and tax payer subsidies that only go to the really, really rich. There is also rep Jay Inslee's nation version of Feed-In Laws, a bit of a tougher stretch. For places like Michigan and Indiana - they have cheap coal power for electricity but no new jobs and unemployment way in excess of the official numbers, and if they want jobs, they will need feed-in laws to counteract that supercheap electricity from old coal burners that retails for 3 to 4 c/kw-hr. Those old, fully depreciated and wearing out nukes that are being milked to the max supply cheap energy, but any new ones will make quite expensive electricity. Pricier than wind by a long shot. A situation somewhat like allowing Whiskey and Rum to sell for $1/liter - cheap electricity has its fans, but it's almost always based on pollution that trashes the future.

So, to paraphrase Cheech and Chong, cheap electricity but no jobs, or reasonably priced electricity and lots of jobs. Where is Homer the Wise when we need him?

Last year (2008), only 8500 MW was installed in the U.S. That was only 62% more than was installed in 2007 (5244 MW), a year where twice as much was installed compared to 2006, with about 2500 MW. Anyway, this is just a drop in the bucket of this hemisphere's potential. This installation rate was somewhat limited by the presumed end of the MACRS/PTC extension on 12-31-08, but that excuse went away in October, and with the election results in November. Availability of turbines and turbine components was also an issue, but with a number of project cancellations and layoffs in manufacturing (DMI for towers, LM Glasfiber for blades, Clipper for turbines), that's not a problem anymore either. Prices for key items like steel, copper, nickel and aluminum (for transmission wires) have also dropped since the peaks of mid-2008, so presumably manufacturing costs and prices will stabilize. Just dependable project financing, something the Feed-In Laws are really good at providing.

Anyway, thanks for the article!

Nb41

by nb41 on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 12:43:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The only question I have on reading the presentation is why only 20% and why only in 2030?  It seems much more is possible.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 01:25:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The underlying strategy of AWEA and the large companies who control it is, kindly, conservative.  the basis of the report and summary were written before the extent of the bubble bursting was known.  It was also written during a period of distance from reality known as the Bush admin.

Everything has been couched in pro-market language, so as not to upset the holy warriors, who often come from the very conservative utility industries.  Actually, your question is another example of how broken the system is, in amurka.

When i read a draft of the report in 11/2007, i asked the lead, Ed DeMeo, why the capacity numbers slacked off in the later years.  He said because they had to keep within certain Bush DoE "guidelines."  I asked why didn't they then focus on using the increased capacity to sell the idea of export, competing with the Danes and Germans.  He thought it was brilliant, but you don't see it in the final report.

nb41's critique of the lack of a Feed-In Tariff is on the mark, but we're talking about amurka.  He wonders why Paul Gipe doesn't get respect, well, Paul is not serious because he doesn't run a big utility.  (I've taken Paul's place at AWEA Board meetings in the past.)   That Paul shone light on poor turbine performance did not help him either, and i suppose at times i could also be tarred by that brush.

I haven't seen the 8500 MW number for 2008 installations in the US nb41 cites, but if it's real, i believe it's a very strong performance.  the dramatic doubling in 2007 was based on some one of a kind conditions, so 60+% increase is fine to me.  More important is the longer term growth support.

getting back to your original question, i agree, so let's just say that DoE policy in Obama land should be 27% by September 16, 2021.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 02:49:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Paul, if you're reading this, i didn't mean to write not serious in bold, i meant it as sarcasm, but learned that an asterisk before and after is a bold shortcut.

Preview is your friend.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 02:52:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Skenna,

No offense taken. I thought your comments were right on target as were Nb41s as well.

As noted, feed-in tariffs are on the table in several states and provinces of North America and I wouldn't rule out a federal policy (Inslee) in the USA.

The Unthinkable is now thinkable here in the USA and the people who thought we were "absolutely nuts" are now history.

I also took exception to the LBNL/DOE study because it was too conservative in the potential for wind and at the same time too optimistic about performance projections.

My thought piece on the subject can be found at http://www.wind-works.org/LargeTurbines/OneMillionMegawattsofWindCapacity.html where I outline a, shall we say, more ambitious goal.

Paul Gipe

by pgipe (pgipe(at)igc.org) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 05:50:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nice to see you here Paul.   So how many languages can you speak now?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 06:06:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, just an Anglophone. As Jerome knows I dabble in French and a bit of German, but just enough to get into trouble.

I am a newbie at posting using this software but I do try to read all of Jerome's wind articles as soon as he puts them up.

I do appreciate the mention that we are trying to do something over here with feed-in tariffs. Indiana's rep Matt Pierce putting in a bill in Indianapolis is quite a development, being a former Hoosier (a person from the state of Indiana).

The idea is gaining momentum, and as I said, the folks who were so diametrically opposed are moving on.

As you know there's been a change of management at AWEA. That may not mean a change of direction, but then again it doesn't rule it out either.

Paul Gipe

by pgipe (pgipe(at)igc.org) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 07:38:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I make my living selling books, including yours.

I was at the AWEA supply chain conference in Des Moines in April of last year, and spent a day at the Wind Energy program at Iowa Lakes Community College. The result was this article I wrote on DailyKos: Can the U.S. achieve 20% wind energy by 2030? http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/5/14/17722/3424/955/515691

If I recall the numbers correctly, the DoE report on 20% wind energy by 2030 calls for building 100,000 wind turbines of 2.5 mw to 5.0 mw each. Correct me if I'm wrong, but your goal of ~1,000,000 MW of wind generating capacity is only twice that of the DoE, though you are looking at a 10-year goal.

I'm thinking more in terms of 50% wind energy by 2020, which means 250,000 wind turbines built in 11 years. If I have the numbers correct, using an average of 4.0 mw, you and I are talking about pretty much the same goal. If you concur, may I use your numbers and cite your name?

by NBBooks on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 11:22:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Be careful scaling up turbines from the current land based 2.5 to 3 MWs.  For a host of technological reasons, 4-5 MW turbines on land may not be in the cards.  The bigger the rotor diameter, the less efficient the turbine, offset some by capturing stronger winds at the top of the swept area, but still dealing with lower speed higher turbulence at the bottom of the blade circle.

Most offshore environments have far less turbulence than on land, allowing for a larger scale-up.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 09:46:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that above 3MW, you start bumping into incredible difficulties to transport the components on land (the blades are more than 50m long, and the nacelles gets to be above 100 tons).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 10:12:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So if we were to adopt the goal in Ohio of carpeting "our" part of Lake Erie with wind turbines, does that mean that the shores of Lake Erie would have a very strong geographical advantage in the construction of large components to go very directly onto ships for transport to the construction site?

{Quoting internal accompaniment: Say yes, please say yes, please say yes ...}

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 01:10:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, although more accurately yes, maybe.  somewhere in my disorganized inbox is a new study on offshore potential in Lake Erie.  it didn't seem large enough to justify turbine manufacture, but assembly, laydown and foundation/tower production could possibly fit.

the game changes if the canals allow shipping to other Great Lakes, because turbines will not come in through the St. Lawrence.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 03:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, so it makes a difference the size of vessel that can pass the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers, which connect Erie to Huron.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 03:54:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I think the Detroit River is around 500m wide at its narrowest, so I get the impression that largish ships have no trouble between Erie, Huron, and Michigan. There are locks connecting Huron to Superior, which could act as a bottleneck similar to the St. Lawrence ... I don't know the capacity of the Soo Locks off the top of my head.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 04:02:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bruce,

Lake shipping is not a problem. Minimum depths are usually more than 26 feet in harbors/Welland Canal/and especially the Sault (Soo) Locks. The Sault locks were built for massive shipments of bulk commodities like iron ore, limestone, cement, coal and grain. Lake ore freights are typically over 1000 feet long, but some of the smaller 700 ft ones (Edmund Fitzgerald fame) also haul ore. There are even some smallish grain freighters only 500 ft in length.

Oswego is a small town in NY on lake Ontario. When Vestas was delivering the 198 V82 units for what eventually was named the Maple Ridge wind farm, they used that tiny port quite a lot - all major parts were delivered to Oswego by ship - towers, blades and nacelles (and probably a lot of concrete, too. The same goes for many of the turbines installed along the Lake Huron shoreline - ship delivery to either at Sarnia, Kincardine or especially Owen Sound. It's a natural.

Nb41

by nb41 on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 10:38:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tah, I didn't think it would be a challenge for channels that could cope with the iron ore boats Superior, but its well outside my area of experience, let alone expertise.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 10:45:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... they are not canals between Erie and Huron, they are rivers. And hydrologically, Huron and Michigan are one body of water. So Erie / Huron / Michigan are a single zone as far as shipping is concerned ... the canals are downstream of Erie, and between Huron and Superior.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 12:03:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Danke

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 04:26:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are a few reports on Great lakes wind potentials. A recent one from the State of Michigan gave their offshore potential as 131 GW - but that involved the use of deep turbine foundations (spars, jack-up rigs), since Lake Michigan's average depth is about 200 to 300 meters.

Of course, the real answer is the wind potential is often a function of what price you can get for the electricity. Trying to compete with an old polluting coal burner like the one near Ludington is hopeless (less than 4 c/kw-hr production cost). That's a big hurdle to get over. States like Michigan are pretty hooked on supercheap coal based electricity. Besides, Michigan is over 180 meters above sealevel - raising ocean waters by 20 to 40 meters is not immediately their problem......

Anyway, another source of information on Great Lakes wind potential can be found at http://www.greengold.org/wind/engineer.html ---> "A Great Potential". For 0 to 20 meters, maximum potential is about 150 GW, and for the 0 to 40 meter depths, about 250 GW. It's definitely enough to power up the US North Coast/Canadian South Coast.

One of these days I should update it.

Nb41

by nb41 on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 10:51:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oops, I forgot - Lake Superior averages 400 meters in depth, and it gets really deep really fast. The Lake Superior coastline is over 400 miles long (640 km), and the average distance to Canada is over 100 miles. Splitting the difference gets you a lot of area (over 30,000 square miles. Lake Superior winds are almost to North Sea scale, close to Baltic Sea (average about 8.5 to 9 m/s at 100 m heights. And, there is 31,820 mi^2 of area, and only 1 million people live around it (mostly near Duluth, Minn, the least windy zone). Or 82,400 km^2 - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Superior. And since most of that water away from shore is still directly drinkable...corrosion is not much of a problem. Thanks to Global Warming, not much ice anymore, either.

So, lets split the difference and say there is 30,000 km^2 of usable Michigan area for the Big Cold One. At 8 MW delivered per km^2 (Horns Rev value, adjusted for the lower wind speed). There's 240 GW of average output all by itself - or about 50% of the entire US demand. Of course, this is deep water foundations here (in some cases, over 400 meters), and it is cold and not very friendly waters (one (and perhaps 2) of Jacques Cousteau's sons died in these waters), so its is not a trivial matter like, say, Lake St Clair, which has lower winds but an average depth of 6 meters.

And the Michigan UP is a great place to store electricity via pumped water, especially in the Western part - lots of 500 to 1000 ft drops, and largely uninhabited. That same goes for a lot of the Wisconsin and Ontario coastal areas (maybe only 300 feet for Ontario, but that encompasses a LOT of area. The best storage site would probably be Northern Minnesota - the Mesabi Iron Range, for example.

These could easily store the peak supply for the Chicago-Milwaukee-Minneapolis-St Paul-Detroit and Cleveland regions. Just add HVDC and away you go, although it's best to distribute the pumped hydro in a more dispersed patter, But still, Lake Superior could be the battery for much of the Midwest US, pumped hydro speaking. And I bet it would require a lot of employment to do that...cool.

Nb41

by nb41 on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 11:13:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there was talk of offshore turbines being built up to 10 mw in the next few years. 450 meters and higher, if I recall. Am I remembering correctly?
by NBBooks on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 10:56:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly on the drawing boards.  I believe there will be test turbines (prototypes) built around 140m diameter (7.5 MW +-) within 2-3 years.  Whether they will ever be commercial entails a serious round of testing.  We've still got much to learn with 120m rotors.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 04:30:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you can use my material. I consider it in the public domain, except that I restrict commercial use.

And yes, keep selling those books. You should have a new one out in April.

My thinking has evolved since that 1 million MW piece. That was done for a special event. Since then I've upped the ante in response to Gore's challenge. This will be in the new book but is on the web site as presentations. Check the piece I did for ASPO-USA in Sacramento last year. I am up to 2.5 million MW for both the USA and Canada, but that can be dramatically reduced with "conservation", an absolute must here in North America.

Because I don't always follow these exchanges, it may be best to correspond directly.

Paul Gipe

by pgipe (pgipe(at)igc.org) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 12:35:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
welcome, paul!

your thought piece is great, and should be on obama's desk, if i had my druthers.
One Million Megawatts of Wind Capacity for the USA

Theoretically, it can be done. There's more than ample land area in the US for such a large number of wind turbines.(6) Even with a very open spacing, for example 8 rotor diameters by 10 rotor diameters apart, ~1 million MW would require little more than 3% of the land area of the lower 48 states.(7) And of this land, the wind turbines would only use about 5% for roads and ancillary facilities.

Moreover, the US has the manufacturing capacity to build such a large number of machines within less than two decades.

Every year America manufacturer's of heavy trucks churn out ~300,000 vehicles.(8) Each heavy truck is the equivalent of a ½ MW wind turbine. Thus, heavy truck manufacturers alone build the equivalent of ~150,000 MW/yr.

If two-thirds of truck production were diverted to manufacturing wind turbines, the industry could build ~100,000MW/yr. Thus, it is theoretically possible that the American heavy truck industry could provide 1,000,000 MW in about one decade.

Clearly one million MW of wind capacity in the United States alone is an ambitious target, but it's a target worthy of a great nation.

it's all right there!

when i read about the big three bailout, this idea was screaming in my head too. they have the tooling industry, supply lines for raw materials, real estate, willing workers, where's the problem?

obviously retooling dozens, nay hundreds, of factories is not a piece of cake, but it is so feasible, and when i see how much tech and human energy, not to mention precious resources like water, it takes to produce another SUV, and the hundreds and thousands of unsold ones lining the docks world wide, it increasingly seems like a no-brainer.

once the bullet was firmly bit, it would have the same positive influence on industry , unemployment and the economy, both at local and federal levels, as the marshall plan did for europe.

the real obstacle, i think, is that you can't sell a wind turbine to consumers as as status fetish, upgrading every two years, like you could till recently with SUV's...

now that the texas oil and roads mafia lobby bush madministration has helicoptered off to plan their next raid, perhaps the general public (plumbers with sixpacks?) will glom on to the blindingly obvious, eg that decentralising energy will have as big a social effect as rolling out broadband, especially when twinned with it.

and that means many, many tollbooths are going to get circumvented.

at the head and foot of every valley here in the umbrian appennines, there is a ruined fortification, where travellers had to pay for the privilege of trading, or even merely passing through. nice work if you can get it!

of course we are taxed in much subtler ways now, and the burdens are probably heavier in that and many other ways too ( back then we weren't frying our planet, fr'example), but they serve as grim reminders of a darker age, and as i drive by their impressive masses, it always makes me wonder how many other tolling mechanisms are going to end up as useless relics.

as we continue to mature as a species, it should follow that we should seek ever less top down, centralised, heirarchical solutions to our problems. the old way takes too much of a toll, in capital rent.

too many valves in the pipes, flow slows and shuts down, too many parasitic intermediaries in the food chain, less healthy the ecology, too many centralised energy companies, higher prices and systemic stress, federalise smart grid, decentralise as much as possible energy inputs, so many coal mines could shut down, so much gas could be used for other better purposes than creating electricity, and people could use the monthly capital bleed of energy bills they'd save financially to invest in other parts of the economy.

/rant


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 06:37:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about 20% in 2020 - it has a ring to it....

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 02:56:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
How about 20% in 2020 - it has a ring to it....

isn't that the (catchy) mantra yurp has for getting off fossil fuels?

way too little, way too late, imho, denial serenely rules as per.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 06:41:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... wind alone is that it implies substantially more than 20% by 2020 for sustainable renewable energy.

If the US is going for 20% wind by 2020, then the portfolio standard would have to be something like 30% renewable or higher by 2020. The next "natural" (that is, small fraction) shares are 25% and 33%. There is also 35%, which allows pollies to say "more than a third".

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 10:00:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
excellent point, bruce.

race us to the promised land!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 10:57:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It has a great ring to it, but is not nearly aggressive enough to save us from extinction. We need to be thinking along the lines of 100% by 2015.

That's the problem: People simply won't listen to the scientists when they tell us how bad things already are...

"Ending [note, ENDING, that is, zero, none, nada] the emission of [ALL of] the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by 2050 will be necessary to avoid "catastrophic disruption to the world's climate," according to the Worldwatch Institute in its 26th annual assessment, "State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World," released today."
http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2009/2009-01-13-02.asp

by asdf on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 07:04:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Upgrading the national grid to a "smart grid" standard connecting high wind power producing areas with high demand areas may be the most complex and lengthy process of all

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:10:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And delightfully expensive and labour intensive.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:30:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do some dumb grid work too.  Instead of building roads, dig and expand reservoirs.  You're going to need them for power storage eventually, and will supply a shitpile of low-tech jobs.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 10:42:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
tjbuff:
dig and expand reservoirs.  You're going to need them for power storage eventually,

and irrigation, and recreation!

it's nuts that a rainy country like england has water shortages!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 23rd, 2009 at 06:41:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I doodled about reactivating

Grand Contour Canal

which could shift water around, allow bulk freight to move around cheaply, serve as a linear park, serve as pumped storage, and probably be self-financing if we captured some of the development gains in respect of all the land within (say) 400 metres of it.

Interesting thing here in Teheran is that the filtering software the censors here use won't let me look at the link to the Grand Contour canal reference....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Jan 24th, 2009 at 01:55:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... but distinct. The national grid requires long haul transmission, but its grid to grid, and working with big enough volumes that it can be done with smart operators of a dumb grid.

The focus of the SmartGrid is the local grids, ensuring that those consumers that are willing to tailor consumption to supply are ready and able to do so.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 at 01:24:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Top Diaries

Occasional Series