A 2019 resolution: Honesty in energy policy

A 2019 resolution: Honesty in energy policy, by Paul Driessen.

Here in Virginia where we live, Governor Ralph Northam and the Republican controlled legislature have approved Dominion Energy plans to install two Washington Monument-high wind turbines off the Norfolk coast. …

There was no competitive bidding for this offshore wind project, which carries a likely under-estimated cost of $300 million. Virginians will pay 25 times the U.S. market price for the turbines – and then pay 78¢/kilowatt-hour for their intermittent electricity. That’s 26 times the 3¢ per kWh wholesale price for coal, gas, hydroelectric or nuclear electricity in Virginia; almost nine times the household price. …

The eventual forest of turbines will impact surface and submarine ship traffic, while constant vibration noises from the towers will impair marine mammals’ sonar navigation systems. …

Lillgrund Wind Farm's wind turbines in the Sound near Copenhagen and Malmö

Wind power is only pseudo-renewable. The wind may be free. But nothing of what’s required to harness breezes to power civilization is free, renewable, climate-friendly, eco-friendly or sustainable. …

A British study found that onshore wind electricity output declines by 16% per decade of operation. It’s worse offshore, because of storms and salt spray. …

Offshore wind electricity is extremely expensive. The first U.S. offshore wind farm went online off Rhode Island in 2017 – at $150,000 per household powered. The newest U.S. nuclear reactor cost $4.7 billion but powers 4.5 million homes — at $1,040 per household. …

Decommissioning (removing) wind turbines is enormously difficult and hugely expensive. Natural gas plants have 30-40 year lifetimes; nuclear plants can operate for 60 years or more. Wind turbines last 15-20 years, and often far less for offshore leviathans. Off Virginia, salt corrosion is compounded by 50-80 foot storm waves and category 1-3 hurricanes. …

Demolition has begun off Denmark for one of Europe’s earliest offshore wind projects. Blades, nacelles and towers must be dismantled and individually removed by big mobile cranes on enormous barges. The concrete foundations must be dismantled on-site by hydraulic demolition shears, then hauled ashore.

Rotor blades are fiberglass, carbon fibers and petroleum resins; burning them releases dust and toxic gases, and so is prohibited. Recycling is also difficult. Imagine hauling 245-foot blades from the monster offshore turbines to landfills. No wonder one study estimates that it will cost $565,000 per megawatt to decommission Europe’s offshore turbines — or about $3.4 million for each new generation 6-MW turbine.

hat-tip Charles