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« Julian Huppert says the Met Office has it all wrong | Main | The fatal contradiction »
Monday
Jan062014

Accelerated depreciation

This article at a blog called Billo The Wisp is important if true. Turbine gearbox failures apparently happen typically after 5-7 years rather than the 20 years that we are normally led to believe wind turbines last for. Moreover, their failure can be completely catastrophic, leading to the destruction of the whole turbine.

Billo has discovered that a group of US scientists has been commissioned by Washington to look into the problem, but they don't seem to have come up with anything since they started work in 2007.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (59)

John

"four meters in diameter for Siemens’s three-megawatt turbine"

And how much Neodymium in one of those, I wonder? The cost, both in money and despoilment must be hideous!

Jan 7, 2014 at 5:44 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Thanks, Vangel.

I see those ones all have access roads, but is that project finished? Last time I passed it was still under construction.

Jan 7, 2014 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

"I am, again, intrigued as to who has been lead to believe such a thing and by whom, with so few in authority or the media so far asking either the right questions or the right people."

I think that you may be missing a broader point. We now live in a world of hype where reality is not adequately represented. The intent is for us to behave in ways as the central banks and governments want us to behave and not in ways that are best for us. When we read the unemployment numbers you realize that there are so many uncertainties and 'adjustments' that they do not represent reality. When you look at the GDP or CPI numbers you realize that they do not represent reality. When you are given bond ratings by the agencies or stock recommendations by the Wall Street analysts you don't know whether to laugh or cry because they have little basis in fact. So why is it surprising that we do not get the complete picture when governments, promoters, or analysts are trying to hype some activity that will generate revenues for them but will eventually lead to ruin for investors and consumers?

If we are diligent and smart we will ignore the 'experts' and look at the numbers ourselves. And when we do we should see that what is said to be real and what is real is not the same.

Jan 7, 2014 at 6:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterVangel

"I see those ones all have access roads, but is that project finished? Last time I passed it was still under construction."

I cannot see how anyone would remove the access roads given the maintenance issues that the towers are facing. The ugly roads will still be there.

Jan 7, 2014 at 6:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterVangel

A 'spine' access road will always remain. See this selection of photos showing construction of various wind farms

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=access+roads+windfarm&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari#biv=i%7C65%3Bd%7CPw07honJMMa8hM%3A

Each turbine requires 1000 tons of concrete for each turbine, enough to fill an Olympic size swimming pool. The developer is not obliged to remove this at the end of the project.

Tonyb

Jan 7, 2014 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterTonyb

Vangel,
I find your comments of Jan 7, 2014 at 3:43 AM surprising. The existence of a subsidy for profit-orientated businesses enables larger profits for projects that would have undertaken anyway and, more importantly, makes potentially profitable far more projects. For instance, subsidies for wind turbines on land are made profitable in inaccessible areas, and offshore are made profitable in deeper water and/or further from the coast. It may make it possible for the more naive and skilled to make a profit, but most of the investment will end up being done by those who can maximise returns.
Governments did not look into the costs before going ahead with renewables policies. The UK Government did commission the Stern Review to try to demonstrate that policy was, on a cost-benefit calculation, preferable to doing nothing. The results were extremely biased in favour of policy, but the Climate Change Act 2008 (and Lord Stern himself) ignore the results. If you read the act the only budget is a carbon budget - the quantity of carbon emissions.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/contents
Before the passage of the Act the only MP (I believe) to ask for the likely costs was John Redwood. Most seemed unconcerned that the costs would rise to £18bn a year.

Jan 7, 2014 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

The existence of a subsidy for profit-orientated businesses enables larger profits for projects that would have undertaken anyway and, more importantly, makes potentially profitable far more projects.

This is not true. Subsidies can encourage malinvestment and capital destruction.

For instance, subsidies for wind turbines on land are made profitable in inaccessible areas, and offshore are made profitable in deeper water and/or further from the coast.

Who cares? What you have is a diversion of scarce resources into uneconomic activities that destroy wealth. Why build wind turbines when you have a much more reliable and cheaper option in coal or nuclear? How is it helpful to make some rich people richer when you are making life for the poor and elderly so much harder and are chasing out industry because it cannot compete with industries in areas where energy is much cheaper and more reliable?

"It may make it possible for the more naive and skilled to make a profit, but most of the investment will end up being done by those who can maximise returns."

Why use government to reward political connections and rent seeking activity when you can let the market allocate capital to its best use?

"Governments did not look into the costs before going ahead with renewables policies."

I disagree. Many people who work for the government are as smart or smarter than we are and knew that wind did not make sense. It certainly does not reduce greenhouse emissions because the turbines used as backup are far less efficient when they have to produce a varied load that is inversely matched to the turbine output. Even my 15-year old figured out that part in a matter of minutes so why am I supposed to think that engineers who work for the government cannot do the same?

The UK Government did commission the Stern Review to try to demonstrate that policy was, on a cost-benefit calculation, preferable to doing nothing. The results were extremely biased in favour of policy, but the Climate Change Act 2008 (and Lord Stern himself) ignore the results. If you read the act the only budget is a carbon budget - the quantity of carbon emissions.

But wind power is a failure on that front and Stern and the government should know it. To balance the variability in wind generation the utilities use open-cycle gas turbines that run at around 35% efficiency. Open-cycle gas turbines are used because it is easy to ramp up production. This is in contrast to combined-cycle operations that produce power at 55% efficiency but cannot increase output nearly as quickly to offset drops from wind. If wind and solar producing facilities were closed and all open-cycle turbines were replaced with combined-cycle the same total output would often produce less CO2. This makes alternatives a gimmick even if CO2 emissions were the only criteria.

Jan 8, 2014 at 1:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterVangel

It also depends on what oils and greases are being used in the machines. If synthetic oils are used the life of the machine with be longer than if mineral oils are used. I suspect that wind farm operators may be using mineral oils because they are cheaper without much thought as to how the turbines will subsequently maximise their efficiency and minimise downtime.

Jan 8, 2014 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterRbravery

" But since I have
stated my position we have seen several billion of shale assets
get written down as companies that got into the sector quickly
discovered that they cannot make any money because of the low
actual recovery rates and low energy prices"

Vangel, what energy price do they need to be profitable?

Jan 9, 2014 at 6:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

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