Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
One of the things that I do not understand is why there is so much talk about offshore when onshore seems a much more interesting approach...
by cagatacos on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 07:32:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is considerable and developing local opposition to onshore wind projects. There's a good share of NIMBYism in that, but also environmental concerns about implantation of industrial structures in rural areas, including the impact on the landscape.

If you'd asked people ten years ago about their perception of windmills, there'd probably have been a majority for saying they were esthetically pleasing, a "green" symbol, reassuring because non-polluting or dangerous, etc. Now a lot of people will tell you they disfigure the countryside, are oppressive, make people ill, and are only there to make a pile of subsidy money for rich people. Some incumbent energy industry/ies has/ve been doing a PR job...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 09:01:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That in the UK seems to be very much the case, but I wonder (i) is it the same elsewhere? and (ii) are any other reasons (more "rational")?
by cagatacos on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 09:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the same in Sweden. No one likes the windmills, except people who live far from them. The solution for us is that someone figured out that Sweden is a sparsely populated country mostly covered in deep forests, where the population density is even lower. So you add 20 metres to the height of the turbines and put them in the forests, where they cannot be seen except from a pretty short distance.

And lo and behold, Swedish forests are owned mostly by massive corporations (google SCA + Statkraft) and cooperatives, so it's easy for the power companies to make deals with them.  

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 11:00:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's the case in rural France.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:08:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"More rational" reasons : as I say, concerns about the environmental impact of industrial structures in previously untouched areas (woods and hills), concern about previously unspoiled landscapes. These may shade into NIMBYism, but not necessarily.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:11:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm. There are no "previously untouched areas" in France or the UK. They have been fashioned by human stewardship for thousands of years.

In previous centuries, people had a more pragmatic approach to unsightly windmills. They knew they needed the energy. These days, we have our priorities wrong.

That's not to say that all potential wind sites should be used indiscriminately. Actual nuisance should be reduced. Seeing windmills on the skyline doesn't count as a nuisance.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing windmills on the skyline doesn't count as a nuisance.

The right to define a nuisance lays with those who live next to it.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:52:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right, and the farmers leasing out a few hundred square meters of field space to allow a turbine to be constructed have spoken with their signatures on the dotted line.
by asdf on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 01:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The people who live next to the turbines are often not the same ones as the people who own the land. For example, the previously mentioned company SCA is erecting turbines close to where some of my friends live, and this company own land equal to more than half the area of the Netherlands, 2.6 million hectares.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 02:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I talk about "skyline", I'm talking about five or ten km away, not the people who live next to the windmills, who are interested parties and must be listened to.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 03:39:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the windmill had been invented in India 3000 years ago they night have been studded with multicoloured gods and demons, their basse daily laved with coconut water and festooned in marigolds and tuberose.
Om

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 01:29:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"previously untouched" by industrial installations or industrial agriculture.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 03:55:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and one which is, naturally, not said loudly, is that the strongest opponents are often the owners of the land on which the wind turbines are NOT situated, who are jealous of the income of the guys with the wind tribunes (which amounts to something like 10,000 euros per year per turbine, for a loss of a few square meters of usable land).

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:34:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's one thing that such cncerns exit, but just how widespread are they in the population really? A problem in Britain has always been that a loud anti-wind minority has been assumed to represent a silent majority. Do you have a French poll on the subject?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 01:15:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For example, a recent poll on "spoiled landscape":

Holiday plans affected by windfarms - Environment - Scotsman.com

A total of 80 per cent of people in the UK - and 83 per cent of Scots surveyed - said the presence of a wind farm would not affect their decision about where to stay when on a holiday or short break in Britain.

When asked if wind farms spoiled the look of the countryside, 52.1 per cent of people in both Scotland and across the UK disagreed, with a further 29.3 per cent in the UK and 28.3 per cent of Scots saying they neither agreed nor disagreed.

Only 18.7 per cent in the UK and 19.6 per cent of Scots said wind farms did spoil the look of the countryside.

The most in-depth poll I saw which focused specifically on local opinion, was also from Scotland nine years ago, and found that people closest to the wind farms are the most supportive:

Public Attitudes to Windfarms: A Survey of Local Residents in Scotland

  • People living close to windfarms (within 20 km) like the areas they live in, mentioning the peacefulness (28%), scenery (26%), rural isolation (23%) and friendly people (20%) as particular strengths. When asked to say what the shortcomings are, most commonly mentioned are a lack of amenities (20%), poor public transport (18%), and lack of jobs (8%). Just five people (0.3%) spontaneously mention windfarms as a negative aspect of their area.

  • Three times the number of residents say that their local windfarm has had a broadly positive impact on the area (20%) than say that it has had a negative impact (7%). Most (73%) feel that it has had neither a positive nor negative impact, or expressed no opinion.

  • People who lived in their homes before the site was developed say that, in advance of the windfarm development, they thought that problems might be caused by its impact on the landscape (27%), traffic during construction (19%) and noise during construction (15%). However, only 12% say the landscape has been spoiled, 6% say there were problems with additional traffic, and 4% say there was noise or disturbance from traffic during construction.

  • ...People living closest to the windfarms tend to be most positive about them (44% of those living within 5km say the windfarm has had a positive impact, compared with 16% of those living 10-20km away). They are also most supportive of expansion of the sites (65% of those in the 5km zone support 50% expansion, compared with 53% of those in the 10-20km zone).

  • Similarly, those who most frequently see the windfarms in their day-to-day lives tend to be most favourable towards them (33% of those who see the turbines all the time or frequently say the windfarms have had a positive impact on the area, while 18% of those who only see them occasionally say the same).



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 01:36:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't cite a poll offhand, but I have personal knowledge of a groundswell of opposition to windmills in rural areas of SW France and in the Mediterranean coastal strip of Languedoc (flat, uninspiring landscape for the most part). I know people in hilly country who are undoubtedly "green-minded" who are passionately determined to prevent skyline wind projects (and they are succeeding). And the coastal opposition seems to veer towards threats of violence and sabotage (I have seen roadside graffiti threatening the "wind lobbyists" with the "rising anger" of the people).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 03:01:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • Can you say if this is the case of a loud minority or a wider majority?
  • How much connection is there to the UK? Merely import of rhetoric, or organisational connections?
  • How much involved are farmers in wind projects in that region? Not at all, they only lease land, or are given shares in projects, or are there even community projects fully owned by locals?
  • Is your sample big enough to differentiate public opinion in areas where there are windmills already and areas without?


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 03:42:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm not running a poll organisation... ;)

On the first question, I have been surprised by the number of people I've heard express fairly virulent anti-wind opinions. And the movement is wide enough to stop local projects not far from where I live.

I'm aware of no connection with the UK. This movement (as far as I can make out) is endogenous. It took off from the coastal areas.

Afaik farmers (as such) are not so much involved in the hill projects - landowners may be. They can lease and pick up rent. In some cases they can build their own projects (possibly after having bought land for the purpose). But there are also local-authority projects (one of which, locally, see above, is not going to see the light of day because of widespread opposition).

The more you go towards the Med coast, the more built projects there are, and the more virulent the opposition.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 03:54:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In hilly area, the place to put wind farms is on the crests. And it's also on those crests that the hiking trails go through... hiking trails that provide most if not all of the non-agriculture local business. And hiking on a path transformed into an industrial-strength dirt road for the purpose of building wind mills is not as romantic as on a smaller path !  (not to mention hiking while the windmills are being built).

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 10:08:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In hilly areas in Appalachia, the working alternative is to blow the crests sky high in mountain top removal coal mining.

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 Jul 20th, 2012 at 05:42:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No coal has been mined in France for 20 years... And also, there are alternative places to put windmills such as offshore or the Rhône valley which is thoroughly industrialised and has a reasonable wind resource.

The Massif Central is more densely populated than Appalachia, also.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 08:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It may be that the UK is particularly favorable terrain for that tactic ~ in the US, that may well be successful in holding up deployment of onshore wind in some states, but in a state like Iowa, the farmers want the money from the leases and the state sure as hell better not stand between the farmers and those lease payments.

This kind of issue doesn't even require a Republican farmer to vote for a Democrat ~ just turn out to vote against an anti-wind and for a pro-wind Republican delegate to the county Republican convention.

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 Jul 19th, 2012 at 09:46:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends where you are, also. In places like Texas and Colorado, huge wind farms are possible because nobody lives anywhere nearby. In Indiana, they're more visible but still in a rural area. If you start putting them in suburbs, it's going to get ugly fast.
by asdf on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 12:31:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well.  I don't think that anyone is planning on putting them in the suburbs.  Nonetheless the largest windfarm in Indiana is in Benton County  (2 projects, ~1000 MW), which is technically in the Lafayette Metro area.  You can actually see the towers from most places in Fowler, which is the county seat.  It doesn't really seem to have stirred up that much protest.  

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2012 at 06:56:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "best" reason for preferring offshore to on is that offshore winds are stronger and steadier.
by jam on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 10:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The North Sea continental shelf is really special. Where else on the planet is there a comparable geological base for offshore wind?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 11:01:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe Indonesia?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 11:56:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some candidates:

North Sea
Caspian Sea
Indonesia/New Guinea/Norhtern Australia
New Zealand
East China Sea
Orhotsk Sea
Bering Straits
Falklands
Hudson Bay

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 20th, 2012 at 12:41:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lake Erie.

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 Jul 20th, 2012 at 05:40:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thats why there is sabre rattling about the Falklands!

(No, not really.)

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jul 22nd, 2012 at 08:04:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
beyond geology is to be near a significant (and credit worthy) load center...

That seems to take most of your list off - leaving possibly New Zealand and (some of) the Great Lakes. The North East of the Us is probably the only other area which makes sense: otherwise Japan will make a lot of sense for floating technology, once it's made to work at a decent cost.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Jul 22nd, 2012 at 05:17:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New zeeland doesnt really have much use for... any. power sources other than conventional hydro, tough. It is essentially "Norway, southern hemisphere edition" as far as hydro resource goes.
by Thomas on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 02:53:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except local opposition stopped a number of projects, which were more akin to Island's; as is the presence of geothermal. Wind does have a chance, especially as New Zealand has some of the world's best on-shore sites (capacity factors like for North Sea off-shore wind farms or higher).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:15:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems like Shanghai would be a significant and credit worth load center if the manufacturer of the wind turbines paid their workers in ¥RMB.

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 Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:23:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:30:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So long as the Chinese have an economic need to discount the Yuan Renminbi against the dollar, not quite as strong a load center in US dollars, but if they decide to shift the weight of their basket-peg away from the US$, then certainly, those paying workers in US$ as well.

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 Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:37:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that printing RMB to buy dollars to pay for a wind farm would depress the RMB against the US$ just as effectively as printing it to buy Uncle Sam's IOUs and stockpile them at the central bank. This not so? And if it is not so, then why aren't more African countries printing local currency and buying out Uncle Sam with it?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:42:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The way that a nation avoids becoming exposed to an exchange rate meltdown a la many Southeast Asian nations in the Asian Financial Crisis is avoiding excessive debt denominated in foreign currency.

Which is why the parenthesised part of "a significant (and credit worthy) load center" brings the country of manufacture into play: in what currency is the credit being created? If its being created in Yuan Renminbi, then Shanghai is both a substantial and a quite credit worthy load.

But if the credit is drawn on an electrical utility, rather than on the Chinese government, the fact that China plays neo-mercentalist games with their currency raises reasonable suspicions about the multiple-decade credit worthiness of an enterprise that sells in Yuan Renminbi, if its loan is denominated in € or ¥ or US$.


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 Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 04:00:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The way that a nation avoids becoming exposed to an exchange rate meltdown a la many Southeast Asian nations in the Asian Financial Crisis is avoiding excessive debt denominated in foreign currency.

Quite. But the Chinese government has enough reserves to cover the gross Chinese hard currency debt, so there is no overriding need to continue to depress the exchange rate by adding to these reserves rather than by buying real stuff. If you buy the real stuff you want with dollars bought with your newly minted currency, it will also depress the exchange rate.

But if the credit is drawn on an electrical utility, rather than on the Chinese government, the fact that China plays neo-mercentalist games with their currency raises reasonable suspicions about the multiple-decade credit worthiness of an enterprise that sells in Yuan Renminbi, if its loan is denominated in € or ¥ or US$.

I'm not sure how you get to that conclusion, unless you believe that the Chinese government will further depress the exchange rate at some point? The sign of the exchange rate pressure looks wrong for a simple cessation of mercantilist gamesmanship to impair the solvency of such an entity.

It looks to me like political risk would be a lot more significant than vanilla currency risk over a 20-30 year period.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 04:16:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It looks to me like political risk would be a lot more significant than vanilla currency risk over a 20-30 year period.

In what way, shape or form are they in any way distinct and separable for a country that is pegging its exchange rate? The exchange rate risk is a policy risk, combined with a risk of losing a capacity to enforce policy.

Substantial credit risks here are (1) the exchange rate risk and (2) the default risk of the actual borrower. From the perspective of US-based consortium raising funds in US$ capital markets, that default risk has to be seen as quite substantial. By contrast, for a Chinese-based consortium raising funds in China, converting what foreign exchange they require on a current rather than capital basis, the default risk seems likely to look much better compared to other investment opportunities in China.

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 Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 06:28:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of currency risk in terms of loss of ability to maintain a peg and subsequent movement of the floating rate.

Of course, loss of ability to maintain the peg is not always distinguishable from loss of willingness to maintain the peg. But it usually is, and I think it is useful to distinguish between the risk of a foreign government deciding to screw your investment over and the risk of a foreign government being unable to decide not to screw your investment over. The latter is a risk which can be forecast with some delicacy. The former is far closer to a Knightian uncertainty.

I find that it usually pays dividends to separate those two sorts of risk.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 04:26:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the abstract I guess, but the current pegging regime of China is to peg at a discount against a basket of foreign currencies, which eliminates the risk that they will be unable to maintain the peg. The risks that a creditor raising funds in US$ and having their electricity bought in Yuan Renminbi faces are (1) that China opts to increase the discount at which they are pegging, and (2) that China opts to reduce the weight of the US$ in the currency basket that they peg against, opening up the Yuan Renminbi / US$ exchange rate to greater volatility.

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 Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 06:40:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, Shangai is a real load center, problem is that they have access to 2c/kWh coal-fired power, so there's not going to be a case for offshore wind until that changes. I would not trust a government that says "I'll pay you 12c/kWh for 15 years if you do offshore wind" in such circumstances, especially not China's.

Even Russia is not able to sell gas to China given how cheap coal has been.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 05:10:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also - rather relevantly to this thread, China has astonishingly low construction costs for fission reactors. Largely because they have a very experienced heavy construction sector, which keeps the projects on time and on budget. At this point, odds are fairly good that the first EPR to sell power will be selling it to Chinese consumers - Now, whether this is a viable path to a low-carbon china depends on how much they could scale up their build programme before running into bottlenecks.
by Thomas on Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 05:32:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, given that we can be reasonably confident that the current rate of domestic coal production cannot be maintained through to the end of the current decade.


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 Tue Jul 24th, 2012 at 06:42:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Top Diaries

Occasional Series