Update on green energy – 8/20

Just a few articles on green energy that caught my eye.

8/7 -WSJ – Wind Power Hopes for Sea Change – Lots of delays and cost overruns building the large off-shore wind farms in Europe. The Meerwind facility had 80 turbines located 50 miles offshore. Getting the electricity to shore takes converters that cost a billion Euros each. Article doesn’t say how many are needed for 80 turbines.

Economics are a bit of a problem. From the article:

Technological challenges behind offshore wind may be shrinking, but the economics remain daunting. One kilowatt-hour of electricity generated offshore costs up to 18 European cents, compared with 11 cents for solar power and 8 cents for onshore wind. Coal and gas plants generate electricity for as little as 4 cents per kwh.

Let’s look at that in US dollars

  • $0.24 / kwh – offshore (going back to Euros, that is 4 and a half times as expensive as coal and gas)
  • $0.15 / kwh – solar (3 times coal and gas)
  • $0.11 / kwh – onshore wind (a bargain compared to offshore at only twice as expensive)
  • $0.05 / kwh – coal and gas

That is for generation. Add on the transmission cost.

8/15 – Carpe Diem – Inconvenient fact: To produce the same energy, a windfarm requires 725X more land that a fracking site – To produce the same amount of energy over a 25 year timespan, solar requires 462 times as much land as a shale gas well. A wind farm takes up 725 times as much area.

The wind farm has 87 turbines 100 meters in the air for 25 years while a shale gas well has 1 drilling rig 26 meters in the air for what, several weeks?

Amount of heavy metals mined and radioactive waste created to produce one slice-and-dicer – one commenter on the above article pointed out there is 750 pounds of rare earth metals in a 2 MW bird-slicer. Getting those metals out of the ground produces radioactive waste on a 1:1 ratio. His conclusion is one acre of land used for a wind farm would exceed the toxic waste produced by a fracked gas well. Will track that info down later.

And here we all thought radioactive filter socks from a fracked oil site were the biggest problem in terms of radioactivity in the energy field.

7/31 – Matt Ridley – Renewable energy is not working – In a blistering indictment, he points out the foolishness, wastefulness, high cost, environmental damage, increased carbon output, inability to expand production, or inconsequential output of wood, wave power, geothermal, solar power, offshore wind, onshore wind, hydro, ethanol, and waste incineration. One point three trillion dollars invested worldwide in slice-and-dicers and wing-toasters over the last decade in return for under 2% of primary energy.

$1,300,000,000,000. One and a third trillion.

Enough to drill about 162,500 fracked oil wells at $8M each. At 500K barrels of oil per well, that would be a humongous portion of the oil produced in the last decade.

Will spend more time on this article later and translate that money sunk into slice-and-dicers plus wing-toasters into decades of US oil production and years of world oil production.

8/14 – Dickinson Press – N.D. regulators approve Adams County wind project in split vote – The PSC approved the Thunder Spirit Wind LLC project near Hettiger. The FAA wasn’t able to get the project to relocate several towers which are near the Hettinger airport. (Not sure that putting hundred meter tall towers next the flight path of a proposed airport is a smart idea.)

Rated capacity is 150MW.  Average annual output is expected to be 675,710 MWhours per year. If I get the picture, that will be average of 1,510 MWhours per day or 77MW per day. That would be 51% of  capacity.  Currently approved for 43 slice-and-dicer turbines with 107.5MW capacity which can be expanded to full 150MW if they update the noise and flicker-shadow analyses.

By the way, those turbines will require 32,250 pounds of rare earth metals with a roughly equal amount of radioactive waste.

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