Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

How Denmark and Texas Became Wind Energy Kings

Standing on the shore of the Baltic sea a few miles outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, the view’s about what you’d expect. Rocky shore, grey horizon, a boat here or there. But this shore is special. Look up, and you’ll see — and hear — three giant offshore wind turbines cutting through the air. Each stands 500 feet tall, with three blades (each close to 200 feet long), spinning non-stop.

“The blades look quite thin, but don’t be cheated,” says Rune Birk Nielsen, with DONG Energy, which runs the turbines. “They each weigh about twenty tons. They are massive.” Each turbine has a capacity of 3.6 megawatts, or enough to power 3,000 Danish homes.

Nielsen guides me through the small offshore wind park — well, technically it’s offshore. The turbines aren’t actually too far from land — each is connected to the shore by a short footbridge about ten yards long.

“For us, it’s kind of a demonstration park,” Nielsen says, “where we are able to test all sorts of things.” With turbines close to shore, they’re easier to fiddle with or repair. The company can safely train their workers without sending them far out to sea, where most of the country’s offshore turbines are.

Denmark is booming when it comes to wind energy. To understand how and why, you have to go back a few decades.

The country’s energy transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewables wasn’t motivated so much by concerns over climate change or “being green.” It was something much more sudden: the oil shocks of the seventies.

At that time, over 90 percent of the Denmark’s oil was imported, and when the flow of oil was cut back, the nation suffered. The shocks served as a wake-up call to Denmark: they needed to become more energy independent.

“There was political interest in making sure we weren’t that dependent on fossil fuels,” says Birgitta Jacobsen, Deputy Director of the Danish Energy Agency. “And therefore wind – which was an abundant resource in Denmark – was interesting to look at.”

Denmark did more than just look. They heavily incentivized and subsidized wind and upgraded their grid to make it more wind-friendly. Today, more than a third of the country’s energy comes from wind and within a few years, they expect more than half of their energy will. It’s a stark turnaround from just a few decades ago.

“The government at that time wanted to shape the future,” says Peter Sehestedt, an advisor for the Danish Energy Agency. “They wanted to show the rest of the world what can be done.”

They started with turbines on land. But Denmark is a very small country, and some of the turbines met resistance from locals. So they went offshore.

When Denmark started building these turbines offshore in the early nineties, they encountered challenges. But they also found some advantages. Yes, it’s more expensive, and saltwater is corrosive. But the wind offshore is stronger, and more consistent. You can put in bigger turbines. And there’s plenty of room out at sea for a small country like Denmark, too.

“If we just used about one percent of our sea territory, we could produce all of the electricity needed for Denmark,” Sehestedt says. About a third of Denmark’s wind turbines are offshore, but that percentage is likely to grow. Worldwide, about 9 out of every ten turbines installed offshore are made in Denmark.

Denmark is also helped by the fact that they’re tied into the grids of neighboring countries, which can help ease issues with the intermittency of wind energy. If the wind dies down a bit, they can ramp up hydropower in Scandinavia, for instance, to make up for it.

So what would it take for Texas to follow Denmark’s lead? Well, it’s already well on the way. Texas has thousands of wind turbines, providing ten percent of the state’s energy every year. Everyone I talked to in Denmark was surprised to hear that Texas is sixth in the world for wind energy.

Michael Webber of UT Austin.

Photo by Terrence Henry/StateImpact Texas

Michael Webber of UT Austin.

“A substantial, non-trivial fraction of the world’s wind [energy] is in Texas,” says Michael Webber, Deputy Director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. That Lone Star wind boom was the product of several factors: generous federal and state incentives, strong political leadership and the right landscape: the state has plenty of flat, cheap land with good wind. (Most of the state’s turbines are in the Panhandle and West Texas, but there is a significant number onshore along the Gulf Coast.)

Right now, all of Texas’s turbines are on land, it’s simply cheaper that way. But one day, it may make sense to put some offshore, like they’ve done in Denmark. Texas has some of the best offshore wind potential in the world. You can get bigger turbines offshore, and they’d be closer to some of the state’s population centers like Houston.

“The other thing that people forget about is the offshore industry is basically headquartered in Houston,” Webber says. “We’ve got a lot of patents, and companies and service technologies and ships. The capabilities to do offshore oil and gas that we could also use for offshore wind.”

And the wind off the Gulf Coast still blows at the times when Texas most needs it – during hot, sunny summer afternoons as air conditioners go into overdrive.

“When we run out of spots for onshore wind [in Texas], we’ll move to offshore,” Webber says.

But turning to the Gulf for wind energy will likely take some time. A pilot project to install one test turbine there has faltered, and there don’t appear to be any other projects in the works.

Onshore at least, Texas remains a leader in wind, and that story continues: there are dozens of projects that came on line this year or in the works for next year.


This is the second in a three-part series on renewable energy and sustainability in Europe and its lessons for Texas. This series was made possible by a Energy & Climate Media Fellowship with the Heinrich Böll Foundation of North America.

Part One: What Spain Can Texas About Solar Energy

Part Three: Copenhagen Turns to Two Wheels and Takes Off


  • Rachel

    There is one big disadvantage of windmills, especially off the gulf coast of Texas – they kill a lot of birds and bats. Texas is a major migratory route for birds so there is resistence to putting them on the coast

    • Overleaf

      Get a life bozo. Don’t put birds ahead of human beings. That would be racist. Go to a zoo for heaven’s sake if you want to see birds. And each state has a unique migratory route for birds and Texas is no different. Birds are not as dumb as you, as they can see the blades. You warmonger/scaremongers should get a life and stop being anti-human. Have you hugged a bird today? Luddite. More birds die hitting trees and buildings and transmission lines, than they will ever hit the blades. And that is science.

      • Rachel

        My point is that wind energy is not a green industry, Neither are solar farms in the desert that fry birds. They get subsidies and are not fined for killing wildlife whereas oil and gas are. There should be a level playing field.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Yes, there should be a level playing field. One way to level things out would be to charge different technologies based on the number of birds they kill based on the amount of electricity they produce. Sound fair to you?

          Based on bird kills per gigawatt hour of electricity produced.

          Wind farms kill roughly 0.27 birds per GWh.

          Nuclear plants kill about 0.6 birds per GWh. (2.2x wind)

          Fossil-fueled power stations kill about 9.4 birds per GWh. (34.8x wind)


          I’ve never seen any claims about solar panels killing birds.

          There are some bird deaths at Ivanpah, the solar thermal plant. Preliminary numbers put the estimate at less than 1,000 per year. We won’t be able to generate a ‘birds per GWh’ number for a while. It might turn out to be as much as nuclear. Certainly not anywhere close to coal.

          As for subsidies wind and solar combined have received about $25 billion total. Nuclear has received over $185 billion. We spend between $140 and $242 billion in taxpayer dollars every year – year after year- to cover the external costs of coal.

          In 2013 nuclear produced 19.4% of all US electricity. Wind and solar produced 4.33%

          Nuclear has received 7.4x as much subsidy over time and yet is produced only 4.5x as much electricity as wind and solar in 2013. We are currently getting 1.6x more electricity per dollar subsidy with wind and solar.

          Protecting wildlife is a good thing. Saving taxpayer dollars is a good thing. Armed with data so that we know what is really killing wildlife and what is really costing us money we should now turn to battling the real villains rather than the solutions.

          • Overleaf

            Thank you for the scientific backup. These leftists like Rachel have a closed mind and their intellectual capacity is very limited. Ever since they went to college and got drafted in the Women’s studies or Marxist studies courses (because they failed on math, physics, biology, economics, philosophy, etc.), they have lost their ability to think. Group think which gives them emotional and social satisfaction is all they can do. These lefties are religious people where their religion is environmentalism. The religion is anti-science and regressive but they cloak it in a scientific veneer. Progress to these people means turning off your electricity consumption and living like they did 100 years ago. But only for others. For themselves, well, they are the elite and vanguard of social justice and they can use the very electricity that they decry.

          • alpha2actual

            Rachel a Leftist? I think not. She merely pointed out the obvious, utility solar and wind kill birds and bats and are not held to the same standards as the fossil fuel folks. Without Federal and State subsidies, grants, tax breaks, accelerated depreciation gimmicks and property tax relief these inefficient grossly expensive rate payer ripoffs would not exist.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Actually what we see is people attacking wind but failing to talk about the very much larger problems caused by nuclear and fossil fuel generation.

            And most of us are very aware that fossil fuels and nuclear energy have received vastly more taxpayer support than wind and solar.

            Up until now wind and solar have received about $25 billion in total. Nuclear is well over $185 billion. Coal gets between $140 billion and $242 billion per year.

          • Overleaf

            These socialist environmentalists love coal, because it takes them back to Marx and workers unite. They have difficulty handling technology as it clashes with leftist narratives that all relationships are one person exploiting another person.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “one person exploiting another person”

            Yep. Coal owners take the profits and socialize the external costs. Taxpayers are giving the coal industry hundreds of billions of dollars every year. $140 billion per year would be $1.4 trillion over a decade. $242 billion per year would be $2.4 trillion over a decade.

            A couple of trillion dollars would really cut our national debt, wouldn’t it? If we weren’t wasting that kind of money on coal we could get our country on a firmer footing.

            Wait. The Koch brothers are in the coal industry. You’re calling the Koch brothers socialists?

          • alpha2actual

            Texas is spending billions on projects that focus on wind energy rather than on conventional generation capacity. As Kate Galbraith of the Texas Tribune reported, the Texas Public Utility Commission is preparing the state’s ratepayers for higher prices. Consumers will soon be paying for new transmission lines that are being built solely so that the subsidy-dependent wind-energy profiteers can move electricity from their distant wind projects to consumers in urban areas.

            From the desk of Warren Buffett. “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” he said. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

            “Think about that one. Mr. Buffett says it makes no economic sense to build wind farms without a tax credit, which he gladly uses to reduce his company’s tax payments to the Treasury. So political favors for the wind industry induce a leading U.S. company to misallocate its scarce investment dollars for an uneconomic purpose. Berkshire and its billionaire shareholder get a tax break and the feds get less revenue, which must be made up by raising tax rates on millions of other Americans who are much less well-heeled than Mr. Buffett”. Wall Street Journal, May 2014.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wind has now become our lowest priced way to bring new capacity on line. Wind will help us control the price of electricity as the price of natural gas rises.

            You can rail on all you like about wind but the facts simply prove you wrong.

            Yes, we will need to spend money on transmission lines but those are very long term investments.

          • alpha2actual

            Cape Wind $2.6 Billon, 468 MW. Ivanpah $2.2 Billion, 392 MW. California Solar Valley $1.6 Billion, 250 MW.

            GE Flex 50 Combined Cycle Natural Gas Turbine $450 MILLION right to work state. $550 MILLION union state.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’re talking ‘first of a kind’ with US offshore and solar thermal. Those are not mature industry prices.

            A good for that union state. We’re probably having to support the workers in the non-union state with food stamps and Medicare like we do for the people who work at Walmart.

          • alpha2actual

            Cape Wind, German Siemans turbines manufactured in Denmark, installed by a Danish firm. Concrete foundations contracted to a foreign firm as is the 10 story substation, Canadian.
            Ivanpah concentrated solar, Spain’s been there done the same with utility scale solar.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It takes time to build up the infrastructure to bring down prices. One doesn’t simply take hardware from one place and plug it in another and expect similar installed prices.

            The US is still significantly trailing Germany in installed solar prices even though we have access to hardware at the same price.

          • Roland

            Germany has steadily increased CO2 output and is utilizing dirty coal to keep the expensive wind and solar Energiewende alive. It will be a matter of time when the German population will start asking the question “Why??” and that will be the end of of wind and solar because it will never work to power a industrial country like Germany. For the first time i seen Germans seriously also query the effect of CO2 on global warming.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s fact check Roland.

            First he claims that Germany has steadily increased CO2 output. We’ll look at two graphs, first the long term CO2 output for German and then a closeup of the most recent years.

            So, how did Roland do? I’d say he earned a Pinocchio.

            Then he claims that Germany is propping up renewables with coal. That would mean that as Germany increases their renewable capacity they would have to add more coal consumption. What do we see?

            Graph three shows us that renewable energy has been displacing fossil fuel use.

            Roland? He earns a second.

            Then he claims that renewables cannot power an industrialized country. Now we can’t make a final judgement on that because no country has yet moved to 100% renewable (outside all-hydro countries). But what we could do is to look to see if adding more wind and solar to Germany’s grid is raising or lowering the wholesale cost of electricity. Make electricity expensive and industry will leave. So, graph number four.

            Oops, isn’t looking good for Roland. Those prices are falling. I’m going to bet that his prediction won’t be proven correct.

            Now Roland’s last sentence. It’s a word salad. I don’t know how to fact check a word salad.

            Here’s the final score, Roland. Two Pinocchios. One probable Pinocchio. And one unscorable string of words.

          • Roland

            Coal and oil is the basis of the industrial revolution. Wind and solar have created poverty.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Roland, I’ll bet you are a concerned taxpayer. Someone really against tax and spend. Someone who believes that balancing our budget is extremely important.

            Are you aware that we spend between $140 billion and $242 billion taxpayer dollars every year – year after year – to treat health problems caused by burning coal?

            Are you aware that from way back at the beginning until now we’ve spent roughly $25 billion – total – in taxpayer dollars subsidizing wind and solar energy? What we spend in a couple of months to subsidized coal.

            Are you aware that wind and solar are starting to reduce our use of fossil fuels which means we can save some of that $140 billion to $242 billion taxpayer dollars we spend each year on coal-caused health problems? I’ll show you a picture.

            See that black line go down? That’s US taxpayers saving money.

            See that green line going up? That’s the increase in wind and solar production. And we know that places like Texas that have installed enough wind and solar on their grids are watching the price of their electricity go down.

            Wind and solar. Saving our tax dollars.

            Wind and solar. Lowering our utility bills.


          • alpha2actual

            According to A Layman’s Guide to Anthropogenic (Man-Made) Global Warming

            “Fear of AGW provides a way to engage everyone in the movement. Socialists of all stripes no longer have to spew Marxist notions that turn most people off; now, they can talk the science of global warming and hurricanes and massive floods and such, and, using fear, trample the average guy into their socialist goals of stifling capitalism, growth, and having the government take over the economy through this environmental back-door.”

          • Roland

            Wind and solar is a waste of time and money.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Thanks, Ronald. We didn’t know that.

            BTW, tell us again how the Moon is made of blue cheese….

          • Overleaf

            Yeah its socialism for these producers. The state supports them with taxpayer money, as if the state owned them. Socialism is the most evil thing that came to a human’s mind. We need to destroy this socialism.

          • alpha2actual

            Havel Wolf member of the Seattle Audubon Society says: “The Communist Party USA’s environmental program “presents a viable plan to carry out on the long march to socialism.”

          • Bob_Wallace

            Facts lean neither right nor left.

            There are poorly informed people on both ends of the political spectrum. And some on each end that are simply bats..t crazy.

          • alpha2actual

            Dude the Age of Aquarius is so passe. But if you are so inclined go off the grid build your squalid hovel complete with inefficient solar panels and even more inefficient wind turbine get together at night with your like minded cretin buddies, sit around your polluting campfire singing Pete Seeger folk songs reveling in your destruction of the Commons. Just one thing, do it on your own dime.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Too late. I’m off the grid, have been for about 25 years.

            Rather nice squalid hovel I live in.

            Paid for with my own dime.

          • Craig Tobias

            So true!!!

          • alpha2actual

            Wildlife Society Bulletin, March 2013

            Total the bird kills and you get X year after year. Wind turbines, solar farms and now the Ivanpah concentrated solar debacle kill Y. The Y consists of Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, raptors, migratory species many of which are endangered and bats. Altamont Pass Wind Farm kills 4700 birds on average annually, 1300 of which are raptors of which 70 are Golden Eagles. That’s the problem, domestic and feral cats don’t kill Golden and Bald eagles fact is eagles kill cats. Wind turbine farm’s adverse impact on bat populations should be noted. Bats are natures pesticide, it has been calculated that one bat is as effective as $74 of chemical pesticide over the course of a growing season. The fact that wind turbines kill bats has been observed for decades but it has been only recently that wind farm induced fatalities on autumn migratory bat population have been studied. Bats are attracted to wind turbines for several reasons, motion, harmonics, and tracking insects which are also attracted by the turbines. The problem is that the bat doesn’t have to make contact with the blade to be a fatality. The change in air pressure is enough to collapse the lungs of the bat a condition known as Barotrauma. This is a particularly dangerous time for bats particularly for some endangered species because of White Nose Syndrome discovered in 2006 which is rapidly spreading. This fungus is 95% fatal and has killed between 5.7 million to 6.7 bats.

            More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country’s wind farms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin. This figure does not included the Ivanpah concentrated solar beam which is killing birds in flight which is estimated between 1,000 (Ivanpah) to 26,000

          • Overleaf

            So a small percentage are killed. What is the big deal?

            573,000 killed by wind farms? This is a scare number. Like those people who measure oil spills in cubic centimeters and come up with numbers in the billions and trillions. What percentage is that? You dont know of course.

            Lets say there are 2 billion birds, 573,000 is 2% of 1%. Big F. deal. Obviously you are another religious environmentalist whose mind is too programmed to understand the concept of 2% of 1%. You want religious purity and intolerance — “nothing shall be disturbed but human beings.”, and birds/wildlife are your God, holy and sanctimonious and untouchable. You reactionaries should cease bugging us real progressives. And oh sorry for the blasphemy, but I wish to insult your stupid God.

          • alpha2actual

            Federal subsidies dedicated for Electric Power Production by source, fiscal 2010, dollars per Megawatt. Oil and Gas $0.64, Hydropower $0.82, Coal $0.64, Nuclear $3.14, SOLAR $775.64, WIND $56.29. You don’t need a Harvard MBA that there is something amiss here.

            Average total production costs for electricity from Columbia Generating Station, similar nuclear power plants, and other types of power plants. Existing hydro is the cheapest, then gas which is only slightly cheaper than CGS but not less than most other nuclear plants in the U.S., then coal. Wind and solar are very expensive. A recent report by McCullough Research suggests energy systems more expensive than natural gas should be eliminated because the EIA believes natural gas prices will not increase for the next 20 years. Source data: EIA, BPA and McCullough Research.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’ve cheery-picked a single year. One year is not representative of the amount of money we’ve spent on fossil fuels, nuclear and renewables.

            Right now renewables are receiving more subsidies per year than is nuclear. That’s because wind and solar earn a Production Tax Credit (PTC). When/if the new reactors being built come on line they will receive similar PTCs.

            For all years up to the end of 2013 US taxpayers subsidized nuclear energy more than $185 billion. During the same timeframe wind and solar received about $25 billion combined.

            In 2013 nuclear produced 19.4% of all US electricity. Wind and solar produced 4.33%

            Nuclear has received 7.4x as much subsidy over time and yet is produced only 4.5x as much electricity as wind and solar in 2013. We are currently getting 1.6x more electricity per dollar subsidy with wind and solar.

            Nuclear. Clearly a bad investment.

      • alpha2actual

        Christine Stewart Canadian Environment Minister said, “No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits . . . Climate change provides the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

        Louis Proyect of Columbia University, “The answer to global warming is in the abolition of private property and production for human need. A socialist world would place an enormous priority on alternative energy sources. This is what ecologically-minded socialists have been exploring for quite some time now.”

        • Overleaf

          Do you always up-like your own posts?

          So you turn out to be an intellectually challenged Left Winger. And I was right. Your Utopian and emotional “socialism” is so juvenile and simplistic that I don’t know where to begin. Abolish private property and we are back in the Soviet Union, except a hundred times worse. At lease some forms of private property was recognized under the communists.

          Do you think the bird cares whether the owner of the wind turbine is the state or a group of individuals? It will still hit the turbine!

        • Overleaf

          And the socialists in power will rediscover the wind turbine and say, well, it doesn’t kill that many birds after all.

          Lousy hypocrites.

          • alpha2actual

            Welcome to the mindset of the Eco Socialist, no kidding look it up. Their vision is a Post Capitalist Utopian conformist society. Their most pressing challenge, how to redistribute wealth from the producers to the parasites.The liberal billionaire who clamors about sustainability likes progress. What he dislikes is the middle class with its mass produced cars and homes, cheap restaurants full of fatty foods and television sets and daily deliveries of cardboard boxes full of stuff and shopping malls. He thinks, in all sincerity, that they would be happier and more spiritually fulfilled as peasants. Beneath all the empty chatter about social riches and sustainability is that need to impose progressive misery. Beneath the glossy surface of environmentalism is a vision of the American middle class learning to dig through bags of garbage, the detritus of their consumerism for which they must be punished, to become better people.

    • Overleaf

      Well doh, there are no bats half a mile into the ocean.

    • alpha2actual

      I suggest that you Google “Ivanpah concentrated solar”. Use advanced search and limit the time frame to 1 month. This 3 Stooges’ debacle is but the latest example of the absurdity of the state of the subsidized “Renewable Energy Crony Green Capitalism” in the US.

      • Overleaf

        The RE subsidy is about to expire now that the industry has a foothold. And WTF do you care of subsidies? Under socialism every thing, every body, every activity is subsidized. LOL

        • alpha2actual

          Louis Proyect of Columbia University, “The answer to global warming is in the abolition of private property and production for human need. A socialist world would place an enormous priority on alternative energy sources. This is what ecologically-minded socialists have been exploring for quite some time now.”

  • alpha2actual

    This is the Executive Summary from “The Performance of Wind Farms in the United Kingdom and Denmark”,

    Dr Gordon Hughes.

    1. Onshore wind turbines represent a relatively mature technology, which ought to have achieved a satisfactory level of reliability in operation as plants age. Unfortunately, detailed analysis of the relationship between age and performance gives a rather different picture for both the United Kingdom and Denmark with a significant decline in the average load factor of onshore wind farms adjusted for wind availability as they get older. An even more dramatic decline is observed for offshore wind farms in Denmark, but this may be a reflection of the immaturity of the technology.

    2. The study has used data on the monthly output of wind farms in the UK and Denmark reported under regulatory arrangements and schemes for subsidising renewable energy. Normalised age-performance curves have been estimated using standard statistical techniques which allow for differences between sites and over time in wind resources and other factors.

    3. The normalised load factor for UK onshore wind farms declines from a peak of about 24% at age 1 to 15% at age 10 and 11% at age 15. The decline in the normalised load factor for Danish onshore wind farms is slower but still significant with a fall from a peak of 22% to 18% at age 15. On the other hand for offshore wind farms in Denmark the normalised load factor falls from 39% at age 0 to 15% at age 10. The reasons for the observed declines in normalised load factors cannot be fully assessed using the data available but outages due to mechanical breakdowns appear to be a contributory factor.

    4. Analysis of site-specific performance reveals that the average normalised load factor of new UK onshore wind farms at age 1 (the peak year of operation) declined significantly from 2000 to 2011. In addition, larger wind farms have systematically worse performance than smaller wind farms. Adjusted for age and wind availability the overall performance of wind farms in the UK has deteriorated markedly since the beginning of the century.

    5. These findings have important implications for policy towards wind generation in the UK. First, they suggest that the subsidy regime is extremely generous if investment in new wind farms is profitable despite the decline in performance due to age and over time. Second, meeting the UK Government’s targets for wind generation will require a much higher level of wind capacity – and, thus, capital investment – than current projections imply. Third, the structure of contracts offered to wind generators under the proposed reform of the electricity market should be modified since few wind farms will operate for more than 12–15 years.

    Dr Gordon Hughes is a Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh where he teaches courses in the Economics of Natural Resources and Public Economics. He was a senior adviser on energy and environ- mental policy at the World Bank until 2001. He has advised governments on the design and implementation of environmental policies and was responsible for some of the World Bank’s most important environmental guidelines.

    Applying Dr Hughes’ findings to the Cape Wind project Nantucket Sound, slated to begin construction in 2015, a basic Capital Cost /Life Cycle Output calculation generates some interesting numbers.

    Cape Wind. Cost $2.6 Billion, Nameplate 468 Megawatts, Capacity Factor 27%, Life Cycle 10 years, Life Cycle Output 11 Terawatts. Capital Cost per Megawatt $234.89. Cost of Production per Megawatt $70.
    State of the Art GE Flex 50 Combined Cycle Natural Gas Turbine. Cost $450 Million (right to work state), Baseplate 510 Megawatts, Capacity Factor 85%, Life Cycle 40 years, Life Cycle Output 152 Terawatts. Capital Cost per Megawatt, $2.96. Cost of Production per Megawatt $35, $15 of which is fuel cost.
    Bottom line, it takes $36 Billion of Cape Wind to match the output of one $450 Million GE Flex 50 predicated on a Capital Cost/Life Cycle Output calculation.

    • Bob_Wallace

      In the graph below you can see the performance of Danish offshore wind farms over time. This lines are generated from the same dataset that Hughes claims to have used for his paper. Clearly there is no performance falloff that Hughes claims.

      I’ll also include graphs of some of the UK wind farm performances that I made from the data. (First ten farms listed in the database.)

      It is clear from these graphs that Hughes makes incorrect claims. What we do see is more recent technology is producing more electricity (higher Capacity Factors). And we see that 2010 was not as good a wind year as some, but that drop shows up in even the newest farms.

      • alpha2actual

        Hi Bob, I sourced my comment, how about the source of your output? Then we should discuss the funding, ideological position of an agenda driven pseudo science source that is designed to lead us into a post-capitalist, post-modern economy. Come on Bob you are either an Eco-Socialist of a Neo-Marxist, no?
        The one thing I find interesting about the criticism of Hughes is that he was able to discern that the volume of wind, on an annual basis is variable, synodal just like the Paleoclimate record for the past 450 thousand years an just like the totally intermittent Wind. You are aware of the fact that the climate is in an Interglacial phase, correct? The fact is, Bob, the renewable energy ripoff is really old, and as day by day reporting of it’s deficiencies become publicized, will be the undoing an ultimately lead to the destruction of the reputations of the pseudo scientists who parasitically grant chased this nonsense,
        Sample calculation: US wind energy CF in 2011 = 119,747 MWh/(46,919 MW, end 2011 + 40,180 MW, end 2010)/2 x 8,760 hr/yr) = 0.314; based on AVERAGE installed capacity. The US 6-yr average CF, similarly calculated, is 0.289; this is a more accurate value, as it evens out varying winds from year to year.
        Germany, onshore                   0.187; dismal, but rising due to offshore IWTs
        Denmark, including offshore      0.251; rising due to offshore IWTs
        The Netherlands                    0.228
        The US Great Plains                 0.289; a high value due to excellent winds in
        Texas                              0.225
        Ireland       0.283; Ireland and Scotland have the best winds i
        New York State                    0.249                   
        Spain                               0.241
        China, 2012                       0.166; dismal
        Australia                           0.300
        UK, 2012                           0.275; rising due to offshore IWTs

        Denmark measured CF, including offshore 0.251; rising due to offshore IWTs. UK, 2012       measured CF 0.275; rising due to offshore IWTs

        • Bob_Wallace

          You’d like the source of my data? I told you. It’s from the Hughes POS paper you listed.

          I used the same data he claims to have consulted when making his statements.

          I’m not sure what sort of statement you’re trying to make with your CF numbers. The CF for natural gas in the US is under 30%. Does that mean that NG doesn’t work?

          • alpha2actual

            From EIA, DOE Capacity Factor NGCCT plant 85% (Industry Standard) baseload, 52% intermediate and peaking. Coal 64%, Nuclear 90 to 92%.

          • Bob_Wallace

            The 85% CF for CCNG plants is hypothetical. Best case.

            In practice CCNG plants are run much less and in 2011 and 2012 returned CF numbers less than 30%. 2013 numbers have not yet been released (unless in the last two weeks – I haven’t checked recently).

            2011 2012

            Coal 57.6 51.4
            Petroleum Gas and Coke 6.0 2.8
            Natural Gas 24.2 28.8
            Other Gases 60.0 60.3
            Nuclear 84.3 81.4
            Hydroelectric Conventional 46.6 40.3


          • alpha2actual

            CCNGT documented Capacity Factor when in Baseload mode 85%. 52% results from averages when in Peak Following and Intermittent load output. Today the majority of newly licensed CCNGT plants are planned for Baseload operation as Coal Plants are retired. This has caused problems for the Nukes because Natural Gas output at the wholesale is priced lower than the Nukes on COP basis.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Yes, nuclear is having significant problems due to the low cost of CCNG. You got that part right. But don’t miss the next big thing – wind and solar cheaper than CCNG and taking away NG’s market share in addition to being a nuke killer.

            Onshore wind is already cheaper than CCNG based on new:new. Solar is on its way to becoming cheaper than CCNG. And those are the drivers of installation.

            Once installed wind and solar will always win in a sales contest. They have no fuel costs. CCNG will take on a fill-in roll but be gradually replaced by storage. With a possible deep backup role.

      • alpha2actual

        Residential electricity prices in Denmark are the highest in Europe—41.2 cents (€ 0.3078) per kWh compared to 11.82 cents per kWh in the U.S. One of the main drivers of Denmark’s high residential electricity prices is their promotion of wind power.

        The US Energy Information Administration projects levelized production costs (national averages, excluding subsidies) of NEW plants coming on line in 2016 as follows (2009$) :

        Offshore wind $0.243/kWh, PV solar $0.211/kWh (higher in marginal solar areas, such as New England), Onshore wind $0.096/kWh (higher in marginal wind areas with greater capital and O&M costs, such as on ridge lines in New England), Conventional coal (base-loaded) $0.095/kWh, Advanced CCGT (base-loaded) $0.0631/kWh. http://www.energytransition.msu.edu/documents/ipu_eia_electricity_genera

        • Bob_Wallace

          Yes, Danish and German retail electricity prices are high. There are a lot of taxes piled on the top of the cost of electricity. Industrial electricity costs are below EU27 averages. (Below)

          Those EIA projections are wildly incorrect. Onshore wind is running about $0.04/kWh (without subsidies) right now. Solar is running about $0.065 (without subsidies) right now.

          (Below 2 and 3.)

          Something very strange is going on it that EIA office. Here’s what they predict for US solar going forward. A decade with no solar installations.

          (Below 4.)

          They even predict a rise in US coal consumption when we are in the process of closing about 25% of our coal plants.

  • alpha2actual

    I have yet to read an article discussing the deployment of utility scale wind or solar projects in the U.S. that includes an assessment of Europe’s almost 30 year experience which has been less than stellar. A cursory reading of “The Economist” and “Der Spiegel” on the subject of the efficacy of wind and solar projects over the years has moved from generally supportive to extremely negative. Same with the literature on subsidies (feed in tariffs) and their effect on residential rate payers. The bottom line, especially Germany, has begun moving energy intensive industry operations to lower rate countries (BMW moving an engine production operation to the US and BASF building a $2.6 Billion plant in Tennessee, which is ironic insofar as the US has the highest corporate tax rate in the world). Spain’s experiment with solar has been disastrous with their Economy in the tank they have withdrawn the feed in tariffs bankrupting investors. A study found that each job created in subsidized solar displaced 2.6 jobs in unsubsidized sectors.

    EU’s Emissions Trading System (Cap And Trade), son of Enron, in the tank. In the first two years of the program 90% of Denmark’s trades where found to be fraudulent (Value Added Tax scam).

    Energy Poverty is defined as household energy cost exceeding 20% of disposable household income has placed pensioners in UK literally having to make the choice between heat or food on the table. In Germany, the EU’s most vibrant economy, are at least 890,000 households in energy poverty. Pensioners are going to the protected forests for firewood.

    In the past 3 years communities in Denmark have risen up to protest onshore wind turbine projects for various reasons. Bottom line, Denmark, leader of renewable Wind Energy no longer constructs onshore projects but instead has opted to go offshore. There is a problem with this, it’s referred to as Demand Capacity. Demand Capacity is a measure of dispatch-ability of the amount of electricity that actually gets to the grid during peak demand. To illustrate this, a 2009 study reported by CEPOS, a Danish think tank, found that while wind provided 19% of the country’s electricity generation, it only met an average 9.7% of the demand over a five year period, and a mere 5% during 2006. Which reminds me of a quote from James Lovelock, hard corps environmentalist and author of the “Gia Hypothesis”.

    “I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood and misapplied. We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human need. We need take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilization.” James Lovelock.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “. The bottom line, especially Germany, has begun moving energy intensive industry operations to lower rate countries”

      Please. That’s simply false. Germany’s industrial electricity is less than the EU27 average. As is Denmark’s. Retail prices are high due to taxes, mostly sales taxes (VAT).

      The wholesale cost of electricity in Germany has been falling since they began adding renewable energy to their grid.

      I don’t know what your agenda is but you certainly don’t help yourself by being so blatantly dishonest.

  • alpha2actual

    It is a misconception that the Modern Environmental mindset is benign, well intentioned, and monolithic — it is not. In reality the movement is extremely factionalized and schizophrenic. Unfortunately the legitimate players are the Rent Seekers (sucking income from the worker bees), Grant Chasers (Second and Third rate players who can’t play so they coach), and Low rent Politicans pandering to a constituency, the Green Lobby which is extremely well funded.

    The True Believers are the Transnational Progressives, Luddites, Malthusians, Narcissistic Xenophobes, Gaia cultists, Margaret Sanger Eugenics disciples, Eco Socialists, and Pathological Altruists to name but a few. Review your “Silent Spring” and the attending banning and restrictions on the use of DDT. The carnage visited on the inhabitants of the Sub Sahara, South America, and Asia by developed countries is unconscionable. Read Erlich’s “Population Bomb” and the Club of Rome literature “carrying capacity” is code for disdain of inhabitants of Third World countries.. Science is intended to drive policy not the other way around. Policy/Agenda driven Science misallocates capital but more importantly takes lives.

    Modern Environmentalists, and I’m including the Anthropogenic Climate Change Cultists, are immoral and inhuman and have racked up a body count that surpasses 80 million and counting, 80% children under five and pregnant women. The 40% US corn production diverted to the Ethanol boondoggle price increase effect on the global market has moved 20 to 30 million inhabitants of developing countries from food insecurity to starvation.

    Review your “Silent Spring” and the attending banning and restrictions on the use of DDT. The carnage visited on the inhabitants of the Sub Sahara, South America, and Asia is unconscionable. The death toll from the anti DDT junk science has resulted in a body count that surpasses 80 million and counting, 80% children under five and pregnant women.

  • Roland

    What a waste of time and money for nothing.


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