Friday, August 23, 2013

Do wind turbine costs need to come down?

An article in the New York Times today ends with the obligatory cost concerns from a wind industry figure

Wind Farms Take Root Out at Sea | New York Times
“If you want to do wind on a big scale with power plants based on wind, you need to go offshore,” said Michael Hannibal, chief of Siemens’s offshore wind business.
“Power plants” are the important words here. Wind farms are no longer engineering experiments or small pilot schemes. They have grown very large, to the point where they are of the same scale as gas- or coal-fired power stations.
...The key to cutting costs, Mr. Hannibal said, is to ...
Mr. Hannibal said that costs are coming down at the rate of 40 percent per decade, but he concedes that the industry still has much to do to become competitive. The high costs mean that there is little incentive to build these plants without hefty subsidies.
“We are fooling ourselves if we depend on subsidies,” he said. “We know we need to bring costs down.”
"Ourselves" are not the target of Hannibal's fooling.

Robert Bradley Jr. has a related article today, built on a 15-year old memo he wrote to his former boss

Reasons to Sell Enron Wind (October 1998 memo to Ken Lay) | MasterResource
“Wind is almost a pure subsidy play, which means that Enron will be at odds with the market and must continually intervene into the political processes to extend subsides and/or create new ones. This is an expensive process and may trade away what we are lobbying for elsewhere."
Today's New York Times article might have been extended to note the head of Siemens was recently sacked, as was the company's solar business; the changes came amid continued losses in its wind business.

1 comment:

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