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I'd like to try to clear some of the confusion that surrounds the economics of wind power, as it is often fed and used by the opponents of wind to dismiss it. As I noted recently, even the basic economics of energy markets are often wilfully misunderstood by commentators, so it's worth going in more detail through concepts like levelised cost and marginal cost, and identify how different electricity producers have different impacts on electricity (market) prices (which may or may not be reflected in retail prices) and have different externalities. Value for society of a generation source may also include other items that are harder to acount in purely monetary terms (and/or whose very value may be disputed), such as the long term risk of depletion of the fuel, or energy security issues, such as dependency on unstable and/or unfriendly foreign countries or vulnerable infrastructure.

Depending on which concept you favor, your preferred energy policies will be rather different. Follow me below the fold for a tour.

The usual disclosure: my job is to finance, among other energy projects, wind farms. My earlier articles on wind power can all be found here

Costs

The cost of wind is, simply enough, what you actually need to spend to generate the electricity. The graph below shows how these costs have changed over the past decade: a long, slow decline as technology improved, followed, over the past 3 years, by an increase as the cost of commodities (in the case of wind, mainly steel) increased, and as strong demand for turbines allowed the manufacturers (or their subcontractors) to push up their prices:


Source: Economics of wind (pdf) by the European Wind Energy Association

The most recent Energy Outlook by the International Energy Agency suggests that wind power currently costs €60/$80 per MWh, which makes it, today, pretty close to what the traditional generation sources (nuclear, coal, gas) cost:


Source: World Energy Outlook 2008 (available on order only)

In the case of wind, it is important to note that most of the costs are upfront, i.e. you need to spend money to manufacture and then install the wind turbines (and build the transmission line to connect to the grid, if necessary), but once this is done, there are very few other actual costs: some maintenance and some spare parts now and then.

This means that the levelised cost of wind (ie, the average cost over the long run, when initial investment costs are spread out over the useful life of the wind turbines) is going to be highly dependent on the discount rate, i.e. the hypotheses used to spread the initial cost of investment over each MWh of production over the useful life of the wind turbine, both in terms of duration, and the rate used. The graph below shows the sensitivity of the cost of wind depending on the discount rate used (over 20 years):


Source: Economics of wind (pdf) by the European Wind Energy Association

The discount rate is the cost of capital applied to the project, it will depend on whether you can find debt (whose price can depend on your credit rating) or need to provide equity (which is usually more expensive); altogether this means that most of the revenue generated by a wind farm at any point during its lifespan will go to repay the initial investment rather than to actual short term production costs; moving the discount rate from 5% to 10% increases levelised costs by approximately 40% (whereas for a gas project, it would typically be less than 20%).


Source: the Economist, 2005
Note: this reflects price for gas at 3-4$/MBTU

As a consequence, the marginal cost of wind is essentially zero, i.e., at a given point in time, it costs you nothing to produce an extra MWh (all you need is more wind). In contrast, the marginal cost of a gas-fired plant is going to be significant, as each new kWh requires some fuel input: that marginal cost is very closely related to the price of the supply of the volume of gas needed to produce that additional MWh.

The cost structure of wind and gas-fired power plants are completely different, as the graph to the right (from the Economist) shows: one includes mostly finance costs, the other mostly fuel costs (with nuclear closer to the economics of wind, and coal closer to the economics of gas).

It is worth emphasizing that "letting the markets decide" is NOT a technology-neutral choice when it comes to investment in power generation: public funding (such as can be available to State-owned or municipal utilities) is cheaper than commercial fund of investment: given that different technologies have different sensitivities to the discount rate, preferring "market" solutions will inevitably favor fuel-burning technologies, whereas public investment would tilt more towards capital-intensive technologies like wind and nuclear.

This also means that, once the investment is made, the cost of wind is essentially fixed, while that of gas-fired electricity is going to be very variable, depending on the cost of the fuel. The good news for wind is that its cost is extremely predictable; the bad news is that it's not flexible at all, and cannot adjust to electricity price variations.

Or, more precisely, wind producers take the risk that prices may be lower than their fixed cost at any given time. Given that, as a zero-marginal cost producer, the marginal cash flow is always better when producing than not, wind is fundamentally a "price-taker," i.e., the decision to produce will not depend on the price; however, the ability to repay the initial debt will depend on the level of the price, and if prices are too low for too long, the wind farm may go bankrupt. Meanwhile, gas producers take a risk, at any time, on the relative position, of the prices of gas and of electricity (what the industry calls the "spark spread"). This is a short term risk: gas-fired plants have the technical ability to choose to not produce (subject to relatively minor technical constraints) at any given time, they can thus avoid any cash flow losses, and the very fact that they shut down will influence both the gas price (by lowering demand) and the electricity price (by reducing supply). In fact, as we'll see in a minute, electricity prices are directly driven, most of the time, by gas prices, and thus gas-fired plants are "price-makers" and thus their costs are what drive electricity prices.

This suggests, once again, that selecting market mechanisms to set electricity prices (rather than regulating them) is, again, not technology neutral: here as well, deregulated markets are structurally more favorable to fossil fuel-based generation sources than publicly regulated price environments.

At this point, the conclusions on the cost of wind power (ignoring externalities, including network issues, which I discuss below) are that they don't seem to be that different from those of traditional power sources (nukes, gas, coal), but that they have a very different relationship to prices.

So let's talk about prices.

Prices

There are two aspects here: the price received by wind producers, and the price paid by buyers, which may be different.

The price of wind energy is what wind energy producers get for their production. It may, or may not, be related to the cost of the generation, but you'd expect the price to be higher than the cost, otherwise investment would not happen. But the question is, of course, whether the price needs to be higher all the time, or just on average, and if so, for what duration.

Given, as we've seen before, that wind has fixed prices, all a wind producer requires is a price which is slightly above what its long term costs are. That makes investment in wind profitable and actually rather safe (which means that a fairly low return on capital is required). The problem, as we've seen, is that wind is a price-taker and, unless producers are able to find long term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with electricity consumers at such prices, it is subject to the vagaries of market prices. And when your main burden is to repay your debt, and you don't have enough cash for too long (because prices are below your cost for that period), you go under right away, even though you can generate a lot of cash (remember that wind is a zero-marginal cost producer and can generate income whatever the market price is) - which means that a bankrupt wind farm will always be a good business to take over; it's just that it may not be a good business to invest in if prices are too volatile...

And thus it is not that surprising that the most effective system to support the development of wind power has been so called feed-in tariffs whereby the wind producers get a guaranteed, fixed price over a long duration (typically 15 to 20 years) at a level set high enough to cover costs. The fixed price is paid by the utility that's responsible for electricity distribution in the region where the wind farm is located, and it is allowed by the regulator to pass on the cost of that tariif (ie the difference between the fixed rate and the wholesale market price) to ratepayers. It's simple to design, it's effective and, as we'll see, it's actually also the cheapest way to promote wind.  Other mechanisms include quotas which can be traded (that's what green certificates or renewable portfolio standards amount to) or direct subsidies, usually via tax mechanisms. Apart from tax benefits, which are borne by taxpayers, all other schemes impose a cost surcharge on electricity consumers (although, as we'll see below, in the case of feed-in tariffs, that surcharge may not exist in reality, as we'll see below).

But there's an even trickier aspect to wind and electricity prices: in market environments, marginal cost rules, i.e. the price for electricity is determined, most of the time, by the most expensive producers needed at that time to fulfill demand. Demand is, apart from some industrial use, not price sensitive in the very short term, and is almost fixed (people switching lights and A/C on, etc...), so supply has to adapt, and the price of the last producers that needs to be switched on will determine the price for everybody else.


Source: Economics of wind (pdf) by the European Wind Energy Association

If you look at the above graph, you see a typical 'dispatch curve', i.e. the line representing generation capacity, ranked by price. Hydro is usually the cheapest (on the left), followed by nuclear and/or coal, and then you have gas-fired plants and CHP (combined heat and power) plants, followed to the far right by peaker plants, usually gas- or oil-fired.

You take you demand curve (the quasi vertical lines you can see on the right graph), and the intersection of the two gives you the price. As is logical, night time demand is lower and requires a lower price than normal daytime prices, and even less than peak demand which requires expensive power generators to be switched on.

The righthand graph shows what happens when wind comes into the picture: as a very low marginal price generator, it is added to the dispatch curve on the left, and pushes out all other generators, to the extent is available at that time. By injecting "cheap" power into the system, it lowers prices. The impact on prices is pretty low at night, but can become significant during the day, and very high at peak times (subject, once again, to actual availability of wind at that time).


Source: Economics of wind (pdf) by the European Wind Energy Association

As the graph above suggests, the impact on price of significant wind injections is high throughout the day, and highest at times of high demand. When there's a lot of wind, you end up with prices that get flattened at the price of base load, i.e. the marginal cost of nukes or coal, and wind no longer has any influence on price.

But the consequence of this is that the more wind you have into the system, the lower the price for electricity. With gas, it's the opposite: the more gas you need, the higher the price will be (in the short term, because you need more expensive plants to be turned on; in the long run because you push the demand for gas up, and thus the price of gas, and thus of gas-burning plants, up).

In fact, if you get to a significant share of wind in a system that uses market prices, you get to a point where wind drives prices down to levels where wind power loses money all the time! (That may sound impossible, but it does happen because the difference between the low marginal cost and the higher long term cost is so big).

There are two lessons here:

  • wind power has a strongly positive effect for consumers, by driving prices down for them during the day.
  • it is difficult for wind power generators to make money under market mechanisms unless wind penetration remains very low; this means that if wind is seen as a desirable, ways need to be found to ensure that the revenues that wind generators actually get for electricity are not driven by the market prices that they make possible.

That's actually the point of feed-in tariffs, which provide stable, predictable revenue to wind producers, and ensure that their maximum production is injected into the system at all times, which influences market prices by making supply of more expensive producers unnecessary.  And these tariffs make sense for consumers. The higher fixed price is added to the bill for the buyers of electricity, but as that bill is lower than it would have otherwise been, the actual cost is much lower than it appears. As I've noted in earlier diaries, studies in Germany, Denmark and Spain prove that the net cost of feed-in tariffs in these countries is actually negative, i.e. a apparent fixed cost imposed on consumers ends up reducing their bills!


Assessment of the impact of renewable electricity generation on the German electricity sector (pdf)

Mario Ragwitz, Frank Sensfuss, Fraunhofer Institute, presentation to EWEC 2008

The table above indicates that renewable energy (mostly wind, plus some solar) injections into the German electricity system caused, on average over the year, prices to be reduced by about 8 euros/MWh - about 15%. That translated into savings of 5 billion euros over the year for electricity buyers (utilities and other wholesale consumers), or 95 EUR/MWh of renewable energy injected. With a feed-in tariff of, on average, 103 EUR/MWh (which includes the high price for solar; wind tariffs are around 85EUR/MWh), the net cost of renewables is thus under 10 EUR/MWh, to be compared to a average wholesale price of 40-50 EUR/MWh. Thanks to the feed-in tariff, a wind MWH costs one fifth of a coal MWh!

In other words, by guaranteeing a high price to wind generators, you ensure that they are around to bring prices down. And that trick can only work with low marginal cost producers, thus not with any fuel-based generator, which would need to pay for its fuel in any case, and might end up requiring a higher price than the guaranteed level to break even, if fuel prices increased (as they would if such a scheme came up and encouraged investment in such plants) .

So we get an glimpse of the fact that there is value in wind power for consumers which is not reflected directly through electricity prices, and is only remotely related to the actual cost of wind.

Value / externalities

Which brings us to our last point, the "value" of wind power, which has to include the other impacts of wind onto the system that are not captured by monetary mechanisms. This is also what economists call externalities, i.e. the impact of economic behavior or decisions which are not reflected in the costs or prices of the economic entity taking the decision. Pollution is a typical externality, but so is the impact on the grid of bringing in a new producer.

Regulation is meant to put a price on these items, in order to reflect the "true cost" of a given economic action, i.e. in this case a decision to invest in a wind farm or a gas-fired plant or otherwise. Amongst the externalities we need to discuss here are the intermittency of wind, carbon emissions (which, in this case, is an existing, improperly priced, externality of existing technologies which wind can help to avoid), and security of supply.

Intermittency and balancing costs

A traditional argument against wind (its availability is variable, and cannot be counted upon to fulfill demand), which people may be surprised to find listed here as an externality - but that's what it is. In a market, you are not obliged to sell; the fact that the electricity grid requires demand to be provided at all times is a separate service, which is not the same thing as supplying electricity - it's continuity of supply. But while wind is criticized for its intermittency, I never hear coal or nuclear blasted because the reserve requirements of the system need to be sized to be at least as big as the largest plant around, should that plant (which is inevitably a multi-GW coal or nuclear plant) happen to drop off. The market for MWh and the market for "spare MWh on short notice" are quite different animals, and the Germans actually treat them separately:


From wikipedia

The Germans distinguish between permanent base load (i.e. the minimum consumption of any time, which effectively requires permanent generation, "Grundlast" in the graph above), semi-base load (or the predictable portion of the daily demand curve, "Mittellast" in the graph above), and peak/unpredictable demand (i.e. the short term variations of supply availability and demand - "Spitzenlast" in the graph above). Wind is now predictable with increasing accuracy with a few hours advance, and can, for the most part, be part of semi-base load; i.e., low winds can be treated just like a traditional plant being on maintenance: reduced, but expected, availability of a given asset.

(for contrasting views on this topic, you can read these two articles: Wind is reliable and Critique of wind integration into the grid on Claverton).

The reality here is that the service "reliability of supply" is well-understood, and the technical requirements (having stand-by capacity for the potentially required volumes) are well-known, there is plenty of experience on how to provide them ("spinning reserves", i.e. gas-fired plants available to be fired up, or interruptible supply contracts with some industrial users who accept to be switched off at short notice) and experience and the relevant regulations have made it possible to put a price on that service.


Source: Economics of wind (pdf) by the European Wind Energy Association

In the case of wind, the cost of the service (which a wind producer needs to pay to the grid operator in order to be able to provide its service, which is the same of kWh) is estimated at 2-4 EUR/MWh, i.e. 5% or less of the cost of wind. And, given that the relevant regulations exist, that externality can be easily internalised - and in that case, added to the cost of producing windpower - or deducted from the price wind generators can get for selling their "naked" MWh.

Carbon emissions

The second externality to mention is carbon emissions. In that case, it is not an externality caused by wind generation, it is an externality which is created by existing power generators, which is not properly accounted for yet today, but which wind generation avoids. In other words, there is a benefit for society to replace fossil fuel-burning generation by wind, but it is not priced in yet (or, in other words, the indirect cost of coal-burning is paid by the inhabitants of low-lying islands rather than by the consumers of that electricity).

Attempts to price carbon emissions are moving forward, with the European ETS (emissions trading system) and the expected "cap-and-trade" mechanism in the USA; these require carbon-spewing generators to pay for that privilege and materialize a new cost for them, which will be added to their cost of generating electricity (but not to that of wind, as it emits no carbon dioxide in the process).


Source: Economics of wind (pdf) by the European Wind Energy Association

The grey area in the bars above is the added cost of producing electricity from coal or gas, for two different prices of carbon (note that the bottom graph also changes the cost of fuel, which increases the other component of cost for coal and gas). It has a significant impact on the net cost of production for these sources, and on the respective competitively of competing technologies. Note that the graph above includes the grid-related costs for wind discussed above, in dark blue.

It is no less legitimate to include the cost of carbon as it is to include the cost of stand-by capacity in the calculation of the cost of electricity. If we consider the power grid as a fully integrated system, then there is very little reason to include some externalities and not others - other, that is, than force of habit and lobbying by the incumbents who designed the rules around their exiting generation mix.

security of supply

A power plant is an investment that can last 25 to 50 years (or even more, in the case of dams). Once built, it will create patterns of behavior that will similarly last for a very long time. A gas-fired plant will require supply of gas for 25 years or more (and the corresponding infrastructure, and attached services, employees ... and lobbyists). Given worries about resource depletion (usually downplayed) and about the unreliability of some suppliers (hysterically exaggerated, cf the "New Cold War" hype about Putin's Russia), it is not unreasonable to suggest that security of supply has a cost.

This may be reflected in long term supply arrangements with firm commitments by gas-producing countries to deliver agreed volumes of gas over many years - but, given all the Russia-angst we hear, this does not seem to be enough (most supplies from Russia are under long term contracts). Wind, which requires no fuel, and thus no imports, neatly avoids that problem, but how can that be valued in economic terms? That question has no satisfactory reply today, but it is clear that the value is more than nil.

Another aspect of this is that "security of supply" is usually understood to mean "at reasonable prices." Fuel-fired power plants will need to buy gas or coal in 10, 15 or 20 years time and it is impossible today to hedge the corresponding price risk. Given prevalent pricing mechanisms, individual plants may not care so much (they will pass on fuel price increases to consumers), but consumers may not be so happy with the result. Again, here, wind, with its fixed price over many years, provides a very valuable alternative: a guarantee that its costs will not increase over time. Markets should theoretically be able to value this, but futures markets are not very liquid for durations beyond 5 years, and thus, in practice, they don't do it. This is where governments can step in, to provide a value today to the long term option embedded in wind (i.e. a "call" at a low price). This is what feed-in tariffs do, fundamentally, by setting a fixed price for wind production which is high enough for producers to be happy with their investment today, and low enough to provide a hedge against cost increases elsewhere in the system (and indeed, last year, when oil and gas prices were very high, feed-in tariffs in several countries ended up being below the prevailing wholesale price: the subsidy went the other way round...).

Note that the regulatory framework will decide who gets access to that value: if wind is sold at a fixed price, it is the buyer of that power that will benefit from the then-cheap supply (and that may be a private buyer under a PPA, or the grid operator; depending on regulatory mechanics, that benefit may be kept by that entity, or have to be reflected into retail tariffs for end consumers). If wind producers get support in the form of tax credits or "green certificates", it is wind producers that will capture the windfall of high power prices. So the question is not just how to make that value appear, but also how to share it. Both are political questions to which there are no obvious answers.

:: ::

So wind power has value as a low-emissions, home-grown, fixed cost supplier. It also tends to create significant numbers of largely non-offshoreable jobs, which may be an argument in today's context. It also has, in a market pricing mechanism, the effect of lowering prices for consumers thanks to its zero-marginal cost. Its drawbacks, i.e. mainly intermittency, can be priced and taken into account by the system. (Birds/bat are not a serious issue, despite the hype; esthetics are a very subjective issue which can usually be sidestepped by avoiding certain locations - the US is big enough, and Europe has the North Sea)

Altogether, wind seems to be an excellent deal for consumers - and an obvious pain (in terms of both lower volumes, and lower prices) for competing sources of power, except maybe those specialising in on-demand capacity.

In other words: sticking with mostly coal or nuclear is a political choice, not an economic one.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Sat May 02, 2009 at 08:30 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar - 2 May (183+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    clb, Ed in Montana, Donna Z, vicki, RedMeatDem, SarahLee, teacherken, Sparhawk, AaronInSanDiego, alisonk, Rolfyboy6, RunawayRose, bread, sphealey, Robespierrette, wu ming, TJ, shycat, jdld, eeff, freelunch, frisco, ZAPatty, RFK Lives, TheMomCat, bronte17, Zinman, BlackGriffen, SCFrog, linh, retrograde, roses, Ignacio Magaloni, Oke, psnyder, Ryvr, Dallasdoc, Dr Colossus, Miss Jones, KevinEarlLynch, electionlawyer, riverlover, alizard, Pohjola, fran1, jcrit, kd texan, ganymeade, avahome, Josiah Bartlett, rapala, nailbender, frostyinPA, bloomer 101, capelza, JanetT in MD, Superpole, drewfromct, Dobber, where4art, GreyHawk, Burned, tidewatcher249, nevyn, JanL, grapes, Bernard, Asinus Asinum Fricat, kovie, BachFan, danmac, Orinoco, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Keone Michaels, ej25, trentinca, HoundDog, ruleoflaw, Elvis meets Nixon, tecampbell, bonehead, imabluemerkin, NearlyNormal, bleeding heart, justCal, bunk, ER Doc, doinaheckuvanutjob, doingbusinessas, means are the ends, Snarcalita, Hedwig, Cartoon Messiah, Thinking Fella, seabos84, One Pissed Off Liberal, phonegery, FoundingFatherDAR, RWood, lightfoot, dmh44, moodyinsavannah, offgrid, VA02 femocrat, BruceMcF, CTDemoFarmer, Inventor, Unbozo, bnasley, gatorbot, wilderness voice, jnhobbs, millwood, Moderation, TomP, ashwken, gizmo59, jwinIL14, kafkananda, swampus, angel65, elwior, Happy Days, Calamity Jean, senilebiker, dewley notid, tamasher, codairem, paul spencer, Blueslide, davidwalters, StrangeAnimals, Justanothernyer, Tennessee Dave, Jacob Bartle, Neon Vincent, sustainable, bsmechanic, earicicle, mississippi boatrat, ancblu, Heather in Carrboro, elziax, DClark4129, sanglug, allep10, realwischeese, ArthurPoet, ohmyheck, Tommymac, Leftcandid, French Imp, stanjz, Just Bob, BigVegan, Snof, p gorden lippy, budr, ArtSchmart, LaughingPlanet, UTvoter, chrome327, polar bear, NY brit expat, SoCalHobbit, pateTX, Unenergy, ebleyes, nosleep4u, rasfrome, RepTracker, bluebuckaroo, Airmid, implicate order, elizajade, Victory of Renegades, Shes a Riot, incognita, MarkRK, zapus, Joe Johnson, curtisgrahamduff, Dbug
    •  Really dumb question, J a P (17+ / 0-)

      One of the issues touted related to alternative energies is job creation. Perhaps I missed it, but do you have information that demonstrates additional job creation of wind power?




      In other words: sticking with mostly coal or nuclear is a political choice, not an economic one.


      Profound statement there. I think it applies to many of the issues, not just energy, that we're grappling with today. And I would add the word "moral" so it would read:

      In other words: sticking with [insert issue of choice here] is a moral and political choice, not an economic one.

      Thanks for your wonderful diaries.

      You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. -- Sir Winston Churchill

      by bleeding heart on Sat May 02, 2009 at 08:45:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sticking w/ coal is a campaign contribution (13+ / 0-)

        choice.  I've never gotten the impression that wind power has nearly as many campaign $ or nearly as much lobbying heft as wind does.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Sat May 02, 2009 at 08:53:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Why would job creation be desirable? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Superpole, Justanothernyer

        For a power source, you want one that creates as few jobs as possible (costs are as low as possible) than one that creates as many jobs as possible.

        •  Not really. (13+ / 0-)

          A basic question would be where is the money being spent.  It's a big difference if it's for fuel costs to offshore entities as compared to payroll (for inspection, maintenance or repair) to people here in the US. So while it's not the primary consideration, the issues of jobs and where those jobs are located is part of the mix, especially in the political arena to help get things passed.

          Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

          by kafkananda on Sat May 02, 2009 at 09:55:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Inexpensive energy is not my goal (6+ / 0-)

          and sometimes one pays more because it's the right thing to do.

          Additionally, job creation is a benefit that impacts the entire economic system, not just energy. I would factor in the economic benefits of additional jobs, along with benefits (economic and otherwise) of a cleaner environment (could be offsetting savings).

          Far-fetched analogy, perhaps, but I can get cheaper goods at Wal-Mart. However, the hidden costs need to be included to get the "real" price. One example: my state (as do many others) end up providing or subsidizing the health care of Wal-Mart employees. I also have to pay for the environmental impact of long-haul transportation. That "cheap" item actually costs more than my out-of-pocket cost at the register, perhaps as much as a higher quality, locally produced item.

          The formulas to derive the real costs and benefits can be complex when determining true ROI, but they're doable.

          You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. -- Sir Winston Churchill

          by bleeding heart on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:28:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  because (15+ / 0-)

          the US economy is losing 600,000 jobs per month, right now?

          I agree with your point in general, but if the cost is more or less equal, it's probably better to be spending the money on people working at home than on importing non renewable resources from unfriendly places.

        •  Actually there are direct job creation ... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BobTrips, sustainable

          ... effects, where more of the cost is produced equipment and less of the cost is non-renewable fuel resources, and indirect job creation effects, where reducing the import share of the average dollar of income boosts the domestic Keynesian multipliers.

        •  BEENGO! Thank you.. this is the Exact (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          point I've been making here for weeks.

          renewable energy is by its nature high tech.. and that means high tech production methods (see Nanosolar website) are going to be used.. i.e. LOW labor intensive.

          Nanosolar is literally printing solar panels on a thin film. too bad you can't buy stock in this company.

          in addition, it doesn't take 100 guys to install a high capacity wind turbine. it takes 6-8 people at the most; crane operator, couple of heavy iron/bridge construction type of guys, company rep, couple of electricians, that's about it. this same crew is going to install dozens/hundreds of wind generators in a given region.

          same applies for after install.. monitoring is of course going to be done remotely by computer. one guy checks on the units once a week or so.

          same applies to solar farms.

          Sorry to rain on anyone's parade, but we're just not going to get One million full time, long term green jobs. the numbers don't work.

          http://www.nanosolar.com/

          The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

          by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:13:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Need to Look at Scale (5+ / 0-)

            "...in addition, it doesn't take 100 guys to install a high capacity wind turbine. it takes 6-8 people at the most; crane operator, couple of heavy iron/bridge construction type of guys, company rep, couple of electricians, that's about it. this same crew is going to install dozens/hundreds of wind generators in a given region..."

            It all depends on the scale of the project before one can make a comparison.  Any one wind turbine might require only a half dozen people at any one time, but a typical wind turbine will also produce only 5MW of power, compared to 1000MW at a typical coal-fired or nuclear plant.  That means 200 wind turbines will need to be installed, along with the transmission and distribution lines (breakers, switches, lightning arresters, bus duct, etc.)  to connect it to the system.  Installing a wind turbine might be compared to the installation of a cell phone tower and might be a good use for those folks, who are already trained in this technology.  A typical tower erection and connection might take only two months, but, if one were looking at 200 such installations, then one would be considering a total of some 400 months to install.  A typical coal-fired plant might take only 36 months to intall, which means you'd need at least ten wind turbine installation teams to put a comparably sized wind field into operation in the same time.  That would not compare unfavorably with the work crews one would find in a typical plant construction.

            "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

            by PrahaPartizan on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:37:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Interesting, But I am Looking Strictly (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lightfoot, bluebuckaroo

              at green jobs... building coal fired plants.. not green energy. and it takes five years to get a permit; so no construction jobs there.

              That means 200 wind turbines will need to be installed, along with the transmission and distribution lines (breakers, switches, lightning arresters, bus duct, etc.)  to connect it to the system.

              regarding "scale", let's get to some sort of overall total estimate. let's say, for discussion sake, we're going to install 1,000 high capacity turbines in each state in the U.S.-- that's 50,000 units total.

              anyone thinking we're going to install more than that, again, I need to see the projections from the DOE. wind turbine companies, energy companies, etc.

              how many guys to install those units? 50,000? No. much fewer... again, a crew is going to be trained to do the installs.. they can bang these out probably in a week or two, test the unit, then move on to the next one.

              as far as manufacturing, looks like Germany is again leading the way, as they do with a lot of high tech/heavy machinery.

              http://www.wind-energie.de/...

              The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

              by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 12:00:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  DOE goal 20% Wind Elec. 25 years (4+ / 0-)

                That will take 5x the number of installations that you mentioned. Second, it takes people to maintain those turbines. Third, Jerome a Pais seems to low ball  ongoing maintenance of turbines. Especially when the turbine itself needs to be overhauled about every 8 years or so. Last year according to US wind energy companies employment was about 70,000 in the U.S. That is reduced now since installations have fallen due to fallout from financing and economy.

                That is on the order of the coal extraction industry. (Not the coal power industry which is much more). Wind at 20% Electric Power would be a very large employment base.

                •  Link (0+ / 0-)

                  please?

                  so the DOE says 250,000 HIGH capacity wind turbines are projected?

                  the operative phrase here is "high capacity". I'm not talking about stuff being installed on somebody's soybean farm somewhere.

                  if indeed it's 250,000 high capacity units, what states does the DOE say these are going into?

                  The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

                  by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:11:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Don''t know the numbers (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Calamity Jean

                  But my Brother in Law is a high level Union guy for the Iron Workers Union ....and he loves Wind Farms becasue they put his people to work.  Lots of people.

                  Just sayin.

                  "But such is the irresistable nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants is the liberty of appearing." -Thomas Paine

                  by Tommymac on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:07:07 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Wind Turbine Manufacturing Jobs (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Calamity Jean

                GE has built more than 12,000 of the 1.5 MW turbines, which are considered the Model "T" of wind turbines. Most of the GE turbines are being commissioned in the U.S. The U.S. now has over 28,000 MW of wind capacity installed, more than any other country (1st Quarter 2009 report on installed wind generation capacity) and see the press release from April 28 (AWEA press release for 1st Quarter 2009). Wind turbines generate nearly 2% of electricity nationwide. In the U.S. production factors (PF) are typically at about 38% for new installations. Production Factor and Capacity Factor are ways of expressing how much of rated capacity of a turbine is actually used.

                In the U.S., wind is both the low-cost marginal provider of new plant electricity and a better source of jobs per MWH produced 85,000 new jobs building wind turbines (see midway down the press release) and locations of new wind turbine manufacturing facillities in the U.S. (see page 17). Note that of the jobs in the wind industry, approximately 8,000 of 85,000 are in construction. More are in manufacturing than construction. A significant number are in maintenance. Several midwestern states (e.g., Iowa and OKC) are gearing up JUCO programs to teach technicians how to perform maintenance. Many of the executives that I meet in the wind turbine manufacturing companies are auto industry refugees from GM, Ford, and their suppliers. Hopefully, we can break their bad habits wrt poor supplier relations.

                Your electric bill is likely to go up more if you have a new coal-fired plant serving your utility than if you have a similar amount of wind power added. Jerome makes this point beautifully.

      •  bleeding heart (10+ / 0-)

        sorry for the delay, I was called by Real Life to do an errand...

        Wind creates more jobs per MWh than fossil fuel based power sources - simply because there is not the contribution of condensed non renewable energy in the package.

        The EWEA has provided this report (pdf) on the number of jobs created by wind. The short of it is:

        •  Thanks, Jerome! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lightfoot, Calamity Jean

          And you are allowed a Real Life! :>)

          It will take me a bit to get through that document, but I really appreciate the resource and will look through it.

          You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. -- Sir Winston Churchill

          by bleeding heart on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:33:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  A request for future postings (0+ / 0-)

          Please have pity on the 50+ crowd and make sure your PDF inclusions are rasterized at a legible size.  I can't read the table above (much less the footnote) without a mangifier...

          Silvio Levy

        •  There was a great conference on this (0+ / 0-)

          last fall at Copenhagen business School. I attach the description.

          The best economic sociologists in the world were there, including some prominent sociologists of finance. A couple of smart Parisians presented, btw. And me.

          Energizing Markets – Making and Breaking Boundaries for The Regimes of Value. October 30 – November 1, 2008.

          The ambition of the 'Energizing Markets' conference is:

          · To bring together a unique critical mass of social scientist engaged in the ‘markets as institutions research agenda’

          · To engage different ways of theorizing the market as an research object

          · To consider the implications of ‘making and breaking boundaries’ in relation to existing regimes and the creation of novel regimes.

          The objective of this conference is to approach (and energize) markets as regimes of value. The various responses to climate change have indeed 'energized markets', and many black boxes of existing markets have merely ‘exploded’ in contestations about politics, regulations, claims for sustainability, and superior properties, as well as it has stimulated many entrepreneurial challenges from new technologies and experimental life forms.

          The conference attempts to bring together recent developments across studies of innovation and the new sociology of markets in order to bring forward the research agenda of how regimes of value for energy and environmental technologies are created, stabilized, negotiated, contested, defended, broken and transformed. Thus, the conference welcomes conceptual papers and papers based on empirical research on developments in technologies and markets that are in some way linked to climate changes.

          Energy markets, technologies for energy markets and energy-related markets are the research object for this conference. We welcome conceptual and empirical papers adressing the processes and mechanisms by which actors and devices are involved in making and breaking boundaries for regimes of value.

          I can't find the papers on the site. They may not be available.

    •  Visualizing The Grid ( great piece from NPR ) (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      danmac, Eloise, lightfoot, bluebuckaroo

      http://www.npr.org/...

      The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines

      Go to sources of power then click on your state to see breakdown of hydro, coal, gas, nuclear ( or as Bush says Nu-cu-lar ), biomass, wind, oil.

      BTW WA State rules as 2nd cleanest with 71% of electric power generated from hydro (Idaho is 79% hydro ) because we have the mighty Columbia River

      •  Courtesy of the Federal Government (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        danmac, lightfoot, bluebuckaroo

        Aren't most of those hydro plants on the Columbia also basically the property of the Federal government or an agency of the Federal government?  Those were some of the reasons an aluminum industry started in WA because of the cheap electricity.  The same could be said for TN because of the TVA and the creation of the Oak Ridge facility to produce U235 back during WW2.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:26:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes I believe that's mostly right (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          danmac, lightfoot

          Most hydropower plants are built through Federal government or an agency of the Federal government

          Case in point: Bonneville Power Administration

          The Bonneville Power Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy, sells the output of 31 federal hydroelectric dams and one non-federal nuclear power plant, all located in the Columbia River Basin. Bonneville, based in Portland, also owns and operates about 15,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the Pacific Northwest, accounting for about 80 percent of the regional total. The dams are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The nuclear plant, the Columbia Generating Station at Hanford, Washington, is owned and operated by Energy Northwest, a joint operating agency comprising 18 public utilities in Washington.

          Bonneville is the largest supplier of electricity in the Pacific Northwest. The federal dams and nuclear plant, plus power Bonneville buys on a regular basis from other suppliers, comprise the Federal Columbia River Power System. Bonneville buys electricity from other suppliers because it is required by law to provide all of the power its public utility customers ask for, and that load is more than the federal system can generate.  However, beginning in 2011 Bonneville plans to limit its sales to the output of the federal power system except for those customer utilities that specifically ask Bonneville to buy additional power on their behalf.

          http://www.nwcouncil.org/...

    •  An illuminating exposition. (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you JaP!

      Silvio Levy

    •  Question about the grid (0+ / 0-)

      Isn't there a problem with the current nationwide grid that needs to be solved first in order to widely use alternative energy sources such as wind, wave, and solar power?  If so, can you explain how this works?

      "in the wake of Sept. 11, a frightened nation betrayed one of its core principles -- the rule of law -- for the fool's gold of security." Leonard Pitts

      by gulfgal98 on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:34:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Build both at the same time... (5+ / 0-)
        As we install generation in new places we have to run transmission lines between the generation source and the places where the power will be used.  Regardless of whether that generation is coal, nuclear, or renewables.

        Older methods of producing power could often be installed close to where people lived.  We could build a coal plant right in the city and bring the fuel to the plant by rail.  (We had the rail line and using the existing track was cheaper than installing new transmission lines.)

        We even built cites close to where power was available.  We were growing anyway, why not grow close to cheap power?

        Renewable "fuels" aren't always available close to point of use. We've got tremendous amounts of wind  off our northern coast, out in the Great Lakes, and on the Great Plains.  We'll have to build transmission lines for them, just like we might have to build a new train track for a new coal mine.

        We also built transmission lines for generation sources (dams and nuclear plants) that couldn't be built close to where the power was needed.  This is nothing new.

        Later on we'll likely build transmission lines to bring affordable thermal solar power from the southern parts of the country to urban areas.

        --

        There's a different, but related grid problem.

        Our existing grid has been built piecemeal and is really a number of poorly connected local grids that are sort of held together with tape and sealing wax.

        The overall grid needs some major upgrading to make it more reliable and less "leaky". The information technology age has given us some very useful new grid management tools that weren't available when the current grid was built.

        If we improve our grid we can cut down on the amount of power we need to generate and we can avoid some/most of the outage problems that we now experience.

        (Just one example: We now have power cables that have built-in heating so that we need not lose power in ice/snow storms.  The price of changing to the new cable is less than replacing lines after a single bad storm.  Think - no more "Ice storm shuts down New England" news stories.)

        15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

        by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 12:48:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We don't really have a nationwide grid ... (5+ / 0-)

        ... that's "the problem".

        However, people often think of the required Electricity Superhighways based on the cost of a regional transmission grid, and therefore get wildly inflated ideas of how much its going to cost.

        The long-haul, High Voltage DC lines to connect the grid of the energy resource area to the grid of the energy consuming area is two lines running point to point. The transmission grid, by contrast, connects to a network of main network stations, each connected to a network of substations, each connected to a network of individual electricity consumers.

        Rather than being a multiple of the cost of a regional transmission grid, an Electricity Superhighway is a fraction of the cost of a regional transmission grid.

        In Alan Drake's proposal to build a nationwide electrified freight rail network, that would be six years if pursued at maximum commercial urgency. The use of a portion of those corridors for HVDC transmission corridors folds into that project in the same six year time frame.

  •  do economists ever factor in the long (15+ / 0-)

    term costs of carbon emission. e.g., having to move billions of people inland. Or the costs of asthma in children and seniors? It seems to me, if those costs could be factored in, suddenly wind looks like a damn good investment.

    thanks for the insight.

    "there's a bailout coming but it's not for me!" Neil Young

    by UTvoter on Sat May 02, 2009 at 08:48:14 AM PDT

  •  Nicely done, differences wrt (5+ / 0-)

    definitions nicely and clearly explained so that it is accessible to all readers. I'm a big fan of clarification and really appreciate this diary. Thanks for a good diary that provides an excellent contribution to the discussion.

    No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable (Adam Smith, 1776, I, p. 96).

    by NY brit expat on Sat May 02, 2009 at 08:48:49 AM PDT

  •  In the near future (8+ / 0-)

    anything that's not wind or photovoltaic is going to get hit with additional costs for cooling water.  I suspect the free use of rivers and lakes is going to be gone.

    •  indeed (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sphealey, alizard, danmac, lightfoot, rasfrome

      I should have mentioned water as well, indeed. Do you have numbers for the water requirement per MWh for different technologies? That would be worth na update.

      It could be a major advantage of wind in water-poor areas.

      •  On ET (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alizard, danmac, ER Doc, lightfoot, codairem

        this comment provides some input:

        http://ag.arizona.edu/...
        "A coal fired plant uses 110 to 300 gallons per megawatt hour; a nuclear plant uses between 500 and 1100 gallons/MWh; and a solar parabolic trough plant uses 760 -920 gallons/MWh."

        When Arizona exports electricity to California, it is essentially exporting a considerable amount of water--water allocated to Arizona under the Colorado River agreement but "wasted" in the cooling systems of the coal, nuke, and concentrated solar generating systems.
        http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/...

        •  recent lawsuit (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alizard, Superpole, danmac, lightfoot

          settled in Colorado re: gas extraction companies having to factor in, acknowledge, and compensate folks for the millions of gallons of water used in the extraction process.

          ...and the good guys won!!

          well, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time...

          by Thinking Fella on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:45:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  My back of the envelope calcs (0+ / 0-)

          say you'd need 17,000 gal/hr per megawatt for a high temp thermal power plant and double that for a lower temp plant (solar or nuclear).  That's total cooling flow using a 25 deg F rise.

          With an evaporative system you lose from 1%-3% of the cooling flow, to evaporation, drift, and blowdown.  Maybe more if you have a severe water quality problem.  So those numbers look reasonable for water consumption.  Just remember the actual cooling water flow rate will be a lot bigger than that, in and out of the river.

        •  There's wet CSP and there's dry CSP (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alizard

          If concentrating solar power (“CSP”) is a core climate solution, indirect dry cooling systems (also known as “Heller” systems) will be a crucial enabling technology, since large-scale CSP will be located in desert regions. US power companies have long favored direct dry cooling systems for fossil plants, probably because of the visual impact of Heller systems.  But Heller systems have long experience in certain regions and will probably play an important role in the success of large-scale CSP.  This is due to their higher efficiency, smaller footprints, quieter operation, lower maintenance, higher availability, and more flexible site layout.  Heller systems can reduce water consumption in a CSP plant by 97% with minimal performance impact.

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 02:43:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  water cost (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lightfoot, NRG Guy, Jacob Bartle

      Re the water cost of concentrated solar power, here's a resource:
      http://ag.arizona.edu/...

      "A coal fired plant uses 110 to 300 gallons per megawatt hour; a nuclear plant uses between 500 and 1100 gallons/MWh; and a solar parabolic trough plant uses 760 -920 gallons/MWh."

      When Arizona exports electricity to California, it is essentially exporting a considerable amount of water--water allocated to Arizona under the Colorado River agreement but "wasted" in the cooling systems of the coal, nuke, and concentrated solar generating systems.
      http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/...

    •  Yeah? C'Mon (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alizard

      you think big corporations used to getting free fresh water for decades are going to give that up without a huge fight?

      please, take a look at our senate... and what happened this week.

      The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

      by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:00:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  For What Reason? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Klaus

      Just why would any cost be associated with the cooling water used in a thermal plant?  The quality of the water isn't changed.  It flows through the condensers and is returned to the stream.  Yes,the temperature increases but the basic quality of the water hasn't been affected.  The only concern might be if the water temperature was raised to such an extant that oxygen levels were reduced below the levels required for living organisms.  Perhaps you could amplify on the reason cooling water would be prohibited.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:21:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the issue (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Thinking Fella

        is simply access to the requisite volumes of water, not what happens to the water.

        •  The plants are in Arizona (0+ / 0-)

          probably because the owners want to be somewhat free of California regulation.

          Metro LA draws lots of water from the Colorado River. This water could be used for cooling in California based power plants.

        •  Then It's Not Just the Water (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Klaus

          If access is the issue, then the issue extends far beyond just water.  Wind farms (or solar for that matter) require much larger foot prints.  Access to just acreage then becomes an issue.  Some folks hate looking at wind turbines (although I'm sure they dote on looking at 400 year-old windmills in Holland and Spain, which were industrial sites exactly like a wind turbine).  Any environmentally friendly power source we select will be physically dispersed compared to our historical power sources, so access will bedevil us forever going forward.

          "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

          by PrahaPartizan on Sat May 02, 2009 at 12:52:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In the high resource areas in the Dakotas and ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            alizard, lightfoot

            ... NW Iowa, establishment of a Electricity Superhighway to Chicago and the East Coast would ensure that in a decade or so there would be no effective objection, since those who are willing to lease to wind farms will have bought enough of the farmland in the area from those unwilling to lease to wind farms to be part of a local political majority that would see to the freedom of people to lease the 1% to 2% of their land required for a windfarm.

          •  yes (0+ / 0-)

            Thank you, PrahaPartizan, for your counterarguments.

            Being a citizen of Denmark, I have a perhaps more realistic look on wind than American leftwingers. Price is not the issue - that's just an excuse occasionally used by politicians. It's an issue in poor countries, which is why coal is popular there. But not in OECD countries, we'd manage fine at double electricity costs. We're quite rich.

            Even so, the correct measure is the price pr. Kwh consumed. This is because so much wind turbine electricity is wasted, so I consider the data Jerome cites misleading.

          •  Wind farms, the actually used land part, ... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            is a really small footprint.

            The vast majority of the land between the turbine footings can still be farmed or grazed.  The turbines take up perhaps 5% of the land under contract.

            And the farmers who are leasing out their land to wind companies think those turbines absolutely beautifuuullll.  ;o)

            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

            by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 02:49:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  evaporative (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TJ, lightfoot

          Actually, most power plants use evaporative cooling systems, which are much more efficient than "dry" cooling systems. That's what makes the big clouds of "steam" from the cooling towers.

          The evaporated water is lost from the viewpoint of downstream users.

      •  Somwhat more complicated (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lightfoot

        The cheapest way to cool is evaporative cooling (eg cooling towers). About 3-5% of the water is lost in those loops.  

  •  Fascinating--thank you! (9+ / 0-)

    This will help me a lot with office discussions of energy.

    I work with rabid "free market" types who always poo poo alternative energy sources as totally un-economic, insisting that government should not get involved and distort the market.

    They say that government support of wind will just raise the costs for all of us.  Hah!  Can't wait till Monday!

    Some people fight fire with fire. Professionals use water.

    by Happy Days on Sat May 02, 2009 at 08:51:24 AM PDT

    •  Re (0+ / 0-)

      They say that government support of wind will just raise the costs for all of us.  Hah!  Can't wait till Monday!

      It will. The question is whether this is justified or appropriate (or not).

      •  Did you read the diary? (5+ / 0-)

        The righthand graph shows what happens when wind comes into the picture: as a very low marginal price generator, it is added to the dispatch curve on the left, and pushes out all other generators, to the extent is available at that time. By injecting "cheap" power into the system, it lowers prices. The impact on prices is pretty low at night, but can become significant during the day, and very high at peak times (subject, once again, to actual availability of wind at that time).

        The "cheap" power referred to is wind.

        Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

        by kafkananda on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:00:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Government support for anything... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Klaus

          ...raises costs for everyone; this is a given. Anything the government does, you pay for. Some things are justified, some are not.

          There is obviously an economic reason why private sector power companies don't just build windmills all over the place; it still is not competitive in the short term with natural gas. For the times that wind takes the edge off those spikes, there is a lot of other time that it's just part of the baseload in which it is not competitive with natural gas.

          That doesn't mean that wind shouldn't be subsidized, just that it is distortion of the market.

          •  Totally false (6+ / 0-)

            Government support for anything...raises costs for everyone; this is a given.

            Government creates an environment for trade to exist. If we didn't spend money on judiciary, trade regulation, infrastructure etc, we'd have a third world economy. The government activities I mention lower costs when properly implemented.

            -7.5 -7.28, Sheesh, you call me a socialist like that's a bad thing.

            by Blueslide on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:22:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Did you not read the diary? (8+ / 0-)
            - wind power has a strongly positive effect for consumers, by driving prices down for them during the day.

            - it is difficult for wind power generators to make money under market mechanisms unless wind penetration remains very low; this means that if wind is seen as a desirable, ways need to be found to ensure that the revenues that wind generators actually get for electricity are not driven by the market prices that they make possible.

            Government intervention, by regulation, allows to get around this problem and to bring prices down for consumers while 'subsidizing' wind.

            •  Therefore making the broader economy (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lightfoot

              more competitive. More "free".

              "...this nation is more than the sum of its parts ..." Barack Obama-18 March,2008

              by Inventor on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:43:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Re (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Klaus

              this means that if wind is seen as a desirable, ways need to be found to ensure that the revenues that wind generators actually get for electricity are not driven by the market prices that they make possible.

              Right, seen as desirable... by the government. If the private sector saw it as desirable, there would be windmills everywhere.

              If your position is that power in general should be slightly more expensive to subsidize renewables, I completely agree. I also agree about the peak-power issue and I understand it well.

              But my general point is that there is no free lunch. If wind was obviously cheaper than fossil fuel power, people would be using wind power all the time. The only way to make wind competitive is to make other power more expensive, or to subsidize it out of the rest of the economy.

              •  no (6+ / 0-)

                I've explained all the reasons why wind is desirable to most people - except the power industry (as it lowers their income on theior existing assets). Competitors will invest in wind, but only if the the initial obstacle is overcome: see government as a catalyst, coming out better off after the fact.

                It's a simle deal for the government: pay 2, get 3 back. If you're the private sector, you cannot even pay the initial 2, as it's heavily dependent on regulation that need to apply to other players on the market.

                Just like it's not profitable for anyone to build a freeway, but it's a good investment for government: nobody can make money out of it, but it's still a good investment.

          •  Sorry, but I disagree with your basic premise. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ER Doc, lightfoot, codairem, MicahT0078

            Government support for health care reduces the costs due to disease.  Government "support" for traffic laws and enforcing driving on the correct side of the road reduces the costs of the carnage that might otherwise ensue.  The "costs" of anything include far more than what shows up on a bill.

            There are many flaws in your comment.

            You say that government support for anything "..raises costs for everyone"   FALSE. Because the price from a non-governmental source could easily be more.  And generating a more efficient regulatory system in which private actors' costs are lessened can bring down costs for everyone.

            You say "this is a given."   FALSE.  I just refuted this in the comment you responded to above.  How many here at dkos will stand behind such a "given"?  My bet not many. Our world has gone to hell based on such fallacious "givens".

            You say "There is obviously an economic reason why private sector power companies don't just build windmills all over the place; it still is not competitive in the short term with natural gas."   FALSE.  The diary makes clear that the "true" cost of a particular mode of generation is quite dependent on the accounting schemes used to evaluate and cost out the particulars, as well as the government regulatory structure in place. These choices are often based on ignorance and corrupt self-interest. The "competitiveness" of wind falls prey to those factors.

            Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world.

            by kafkananda on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:52:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Re (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Superpole

              Government support for health care reduces the costs due to disease.  Government "support" for traffic laws and enforcing driving on the correct side of the road reduces the costs of the carnage that might otherwise ensue.  The "costs" of anything include far more than what shows up on a bill.

              Nothing you wrote here I disagree with. For some things, the benefits outweigh the costs of government involvement, for others, they do not. But government involvement always costs money.

              For wind, the problem is that if wind were so great on a cost basis, people would be putting windmills up everywhere. We'd have environmental groups protesting windmill encroachment on protected land with wind tycoon developers firmly in favor and so forth.

              Government support of wind distorts the marketplace by putting wind ahead of other competitors, because instead of the market's decision on the matter, the government has decided that the market doesn't know best.

              In this case, I agree, because the market doesn't take into account the negative externalities of wind, but the result of intervention must be slightly more expensive power across the board to make room for the (less competitive) wind. It equates to making all power more expensive to take into account the negative externalities, a position I agree with, but let's understand the intellectual underpinning of what we're discussing.

              •  under what criteria (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk, lightfoot, Jacob Bartle

                do you say that wind is "less competitive"?

                •  The fact... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...that coal and natural gas plants are still being constructed, and that we're having debates over wind subsidies. If wind was a dead-bang winner, none of this would be necessary since people would be building them everywhere.

                  Now, if you're going to argue that wind is actually cheaper if you include all externalities, I agree, but the only way to deal with this is to price all power including externalities, which equates to more expensive power.

                  •  no (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lightfoot, Calamity Jean

                    gas and coal are being built because they are less risky under market mechanisms, not beause they are a more competitive: they ar more expensive overall, but the timing of their price increases is more compatible with what the market can bear. That's not "cheaper".

                    •  OK... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Klaus

                      ...so you are arguing that there are two components to power economics, price and risk (risk meaning the risk of an uneconomical outcome).

                      For fossil fuels, price is slightly higher, but risk is much lower. For wind, it's high risk but slightly lower price. You're arguing that government intervention is necessary for the risk element to be mitigated. Fair enough, but to me, risk is simply an element of price.

                      •  Risk Is Only In the Price If ... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Jerome a Paris, lightfoot

                        The accounting scheme requires it. That comes from the government.

                        Corporations pay our politicians to make things come out the way they want.

                        Therefore the government is involved in ALL pricing schemes.

                        The risk discussed here will not be in the required accounting schemes if the corporations get their way with the government.

                        You miss the boat by arguing that risk is built into the price in all cases.

                        RMD

                        The Bushiter's Iraq 2004 - 1268 Dead, about 25K Medivacs and 9000 Maimed... It's the Bushiter Way, wasting other people's money and lives. And it's worse now.

                        by RedMeatDem on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:33:12 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  No, its the breakdown between fixed cost and ... (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        alizard

                        ... marginal cost. In a risk free environment, the same fundamental problem exists with unfettered markets when the lowest cost technology has a very high share of fixed costs.

                        Full-information, perfectly competitive (zero barriers to entry) market pricing is at marginal cost. Any time a high fixed cost, low marginal cost technique is pushed onto the extensive margin, it shoots itself in the foot in terms of pricing below replacement cost.

                        From current levels of penetration up to 20%, and in terms of full economic costs, wind is clearly the lowest cost domestic source of new power. Establishing a feed-in tariff that ensures that wind competitive on a commercial basis will both reduce total commercial cost of power generation and substantially reduce total economic cost of each kilowatt produced.

                        •  You might want to upgrade that 20% number... (0+ / 0-)

                          Something like 35% might be more accurate.

                          Archer and Jacobson (2008) used wind speed data from several sites for an entire year and found that roughly 35% of produced power is 100% (24/365, baseload) reliable if farms at those sites are connected.

                          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                          by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:00:46 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The two percentages refer to two different ... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            alizard, Calamity Jean

                            ... values, one is wind power generated as a percent of all power generated, and the other is wind power generated as a percent of wind power capacity.

                            The DoE "20% by 2030" report analyzed the 20% scenario, so we know that from current penetration levels up to 20%, there is no need for new backing power, and given the high external costs of the other energy supplies in the same ball-park, clearly when there is nothing additional required but a handful of long haul transmission lines, wind power is the cheapest in terms of full economic cost.

                            "From current levels of penetration up to 20%" does not imply that 20% is the limit of the range. Simply stating that something is true for a given range does not imply that it is false beyond that range.

                            At this point in time, whether it stops being the least cost source of domestic power at 25%, 40% or 80% are differences that do not carry a real policy difference. First we get it up to 20% penetration. In that process, we will learn enough to get an idea at what point it might start to lose its full cost advantage.

                          •  No. (0+ / 0-)

                            Note that I posted...

                            roughly 35% of produced power is 100% (24/365, baseload) reliable

                            "Produced" power, not "nameplate" power.

                            The 35% number holds.  

                            It's 35% of the produced power which is roughly 33% of nameplate/'full tilt boogie' power.

                            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                            by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:48:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Percent OF NAMEPLATE POWER ... (0+ / 0-)

                            ... not percent of total electricity produced from all sources. Penetration is the produced power as a percent share OF ALL ELECTRICITY PRODUCED.

                            Its the same top number in the two percentages, but a percent OF two different bases.

                          •  My point... (0+ / 0-)

                            Is that the 20% PENETRATION number is based on low estimate of how reliable wind from connected farms is.

                            The 20% is probably low.  Wind from connected farms has been shown by Archer and Jacobson to be more reliable than what had been earlier assumed.

                            Those old penetration numbers were based on the common holding that wind isn't reliable, or only reliable at a much lower level.  It's been shown to be much higher than what people assumed.

                            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                            by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:24:44 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Surely you are not reading what I wrote as ... (0+ / 0-)

                            ... implying that the cost of wind power starts rising at 20% because of the need for additional backing power (storage, alternative source, etc.)?

                            From current levels of penetration up to [*] 20%, and in terms of full economic costs, wind is clearly the lowest cost domestic source of new power.

                            Obviously, that statement is just as true whether the threshold is 25% of 95%.

                            I think that at the point marked [*], you are reading "a maximum of" in, even though it is not there, and turning the meaning of what I said upside down.

                          •  Yep. (0+ / 0-)

                            I think I am....

                            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                            by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 08:56:35 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Where the maximum threshold is, that's ... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Turbonerd, Calamity Jean

                            ... an interesting question, but not an urgent question.

                            Working out that when the free ride externalities are taken into account, wind power is the cheapest domestic electricity source we can get up through a penetration that is ten years or more in the future is the information required for urgent action, in putting on a persuasive show of doing something about our oil addiction before the plug is pulled on the US$ as a hard currency.

                          •  I don't disagree with anything you say, but... (0+ / 0-)

                            There are a lot of cool-on-wind people out there saying that wind can be no more than 20% of our future grid.

                            I think it's time to kick that number to the curb.

                            Are you familiar with this article?
                            Could the Electric Grid Support Far More Wind and Solar?

                            Take a look at the figure in the lower right.  

                            It's a thing of beauty, to my old eyes.

                            And be sure to not read 2016 as "forever"....

                            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                            by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 09:38:36 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Then go find some of them ... (0+ / 0-)

                            ... and kick the number to the curve with them.

                            Indeed, the Department of Energy report, which is more conservative in its assumptions, implies that they are wrong ... if we can get to 20% wind with the addition of some long overdue long haul transmission capacity, and with no additional backing supplies and no additional storage, then clearly 20% is no upper limit.

                            That article has 22% wind and 22% solar, and doesn't even pool power with the OK / Texas Panhandle resource which would smooth out the wind resource substantially in its own right.

                          •  The article says... (0+ / 0-)

                            the power grid might be able to handle three times that much (20%)

                            Take a look at 23:00 on Figure 6.

                            Roughly 23,000 of 43,000 MW are coming from wind.  That's over 50%.

                            Keep your eyes open for future releases from Jacobson's group at Stanford.  They're likely to be releasing some very interesting numbers showing what adding some electric vehicles that storage share to the grid will do to renewable incorporation.

                            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                            by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:16:01 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  22% implies ... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Calamity Jean

                            ... more than 22% part of the time if its less than 22% part of the time.

                            Again, interesting, but much less urgent than the task of getting to 20% penetration.

                            If we can launch the wind industry to that level, it will be a full fledged player, own its own Congressmen and Senators, like the other big players do, and be in a position to partner with all the beneficiaries of a return to the Energy Independence that we enjoyed for almost two centuries to ensure the opportunity to keep growing.

                          •  I wouldn't be surprised to see 20% penetration... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Calamity Jean

                            in five or so years.  Certainly within ten.

                            We added close to 1% last year and we should be able to add another 1% this year, bringing us to 3%.

                            And I would expect the rate of manufacturing to be a lot higher two years from now.  Michigan is talking about converting auto component plants to turbine component plants.  That shouldn't take long to do.

                            Lots of spare capacity and skilled labor in Michigan these days.

                            The economy is likely to be coming back strong in a year or so.  Money is going to be looking for good solid investments with good cash flows.  

                            At the same time we should be dropping overall demand via conservation.  Much easier to be 20% of something small than of something large.

                            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                            by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:50:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually, if you look at my home town / area (0+ / 0-)

                    It kind of does look like they are building them everywhere.

                    Wind farm about 60 miles away to the east.

                    They constructed one about 45 miles away to the west.

                    Now towns in my immediate area are passing wind site laws, due to interest from wind companies.

                    Economic Left/Right: -7.38 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.33

                    by wrights on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:42:37 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Way cool! (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      JeffW

                      Actually, if you look at my home town / area... It kind of does look like they are building them everywhere.

                      Where are you? (Roughly.)

                      Now towns in my immediate area are passing wind site laws, due to interest from wind companies.

                      Promoting or opposing?

                      Renewable energy brings national security.

                      by Calamity Jean on Sun May 03, 2009 at 07:10:28 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I live on the St. Lawrence Seaway. (0+ / 0-)

                        All last summer, barges were leaving loaded with wind towers, for a project about 45 minutes to an hour to the west.

                        Several of the towns about 1/2 hour away along the river are trying to pass laws about set back distances, etc. (One of the schools there has their own wind generator, which is kind of cool...)

                        I'd say generally, that the towns are in favor, with a few taxpayers in NIMBY mode.

                        Economic Left/Right: -7.38 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.33

                        by wrights on Mon May 04, 2009 at 03:21:29 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                •  heh (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  slowbutsure

                  Sparhawk still worships the market as omniscient as I once did.

                  The market knows all! Leave it alone, my precious! It doesn't like you!

                  I may make you feel, but I can't make you think.

                  by Jacob Bartle on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:29:28 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  what a crock... (6+ / 0-)

                You still apparently didn't read the diary very closely and still don't understand gov't vs private sector spending and impacts.

                But government involvement always costs money.

                 I can agree with that as long as you also agree that private involvement always costs money.  All productive things cost money.  Often it is less expensive if the gov't gets involved -- try finding a cheaper administrative cost for providing social security or medicare than the gov't.  Bonus question -- which utility companies in California didn't suffer from huge price spikes due to Enron?  A. the gov't owned municipal utilities.  

                It is a common right wing lie that all gov't actions are inefficient.

                •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Klaus

                  It is a common right wing lie that all gov't actions are inefficient.

                  No doubt, but knowing what the government does well and knowing what it does poorly is key. For example, all the items you talk about above are dead-bang correct, and I would argue as well that health care is the same way (should be single payer).

                  But the recent housing boom and bust is due to the government futzing with interest rates and housing policy, and failing to prosecute fraud appropriately. It really is better to allow interest rates and home prices to be set by the market instead of trying to get an optimal result by government interference.

                  Specifically in the case of the power market, the private sector will probably come up with the cheapest solution on its own without interference. Anytime you talk about subsidizing wind by the government, you're talking about making all power more expensive to support wind power. I think this is the right move, but let's understand what we're talking about here. There's really no "efficiency dividend" that you get with Social Security or single-payer health insurance.

                  •  And housing policy? In what alternate universe? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Justina, NRG Guy

                    There has been no housing policy change in the past fifteen years that can explain the explosion of mortgages originated by a middleman and sold onto financial markets.

                    And that, after is, is the practice that is fundamentally unsafe. A mortgage originator needs to be expecting to hold a large share of the mortgages they originate in order to avoid the financial incentive to act like a used car salesman.

                    The policy change that explains that explosion is the government progressively stopping its regulatory efforts.

                    The financial system melt-down is primarily a consequence of a failure to provide government regulatory services, not a consequence of any housing policy change.

              •  Re (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Jacob Bartle

                I agree, because the market doesn't take into account the negative externalities of wind,

                Wind = fossil fuels obviously.

              •  FWIW. Don't Forget NIMBY Syndrome (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sparhawk

                we're not going to get "windmills up everywhere", even tho' hideous cell towers are up everywhere like noxious weeds.. and that's "OK".

                Not in my backyard has already put the kabosh on ocean-based turbines off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.

                surprised? don't be.

                The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

                by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 12:10:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ask a farmer in North Dakota ... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  BobTrips, Calamity Jean

                  ... the answer is likely to be different.

                  A relatively small public investment (in terms of the total resource) in HVDC lines from the Eastern Seaboard to Chicago, Chicago to North Dakota, the Texas Pandhandle to SoCal, and then connected North to South through Kansas and via the Dallas metroplex, and there are large acreages where the owners would be happy to have a steady source of cash income ... and enough distinct wind resources that there would be much less volatility in wind power availability than the smaller European nations have to cope with.

                •  That's not correct... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Calamity Jean

                  Ocean-based and Great Lakes wind farms are under development.

                  The Cape/Vineyard wind turbines are being moved further offshore to minimize the visual impact.

                  Obviously there will be some NIMBY issues.  Just think how the people who watch their mountains being destroyed for coal feel.

                  Interestingly, there's ongoing collaboration between green energy people and environmentalists to identify which parts of the most productive wind and solar areas are best to use and which are best to preserve.

                  Things won't go absolutely smoothly, but we'll work it out....

                  15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                  by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:22:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Government issued patents (0+ / 0-)

                cost the US almost $300 billion/year just for drugs.

          •  You are arguing for ideology to reality. (0+ / 0-)

            Arguing starting from reality gives the opposite answer in this particular case.

    •  get involved and distort the market? (0+ / 0-)

      They must mean like the Feds did with the Internet.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Sat May 02, 2009 at 09:59:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bottom line: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miss Jones, codairem, NY brit expat

    Clean power is essential, but might not necessarily be very profitable, therefore it should be socialized.

    At least, that's my opinion.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Sat May 02, 2009 at 09:09:08 AM PDT

  •  Well done, Jerome - (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, ER Doc, elwior, codairem

    as usual.

  •  could it be that, like with banking (0+ / 0-)

    the real problem is that the energy grid is just TO BIG TO FAIL???

    do we really have to have the entire country cut into only a very few 'grids' that need major turbines and intricate distribution systems, if we go to alternatives like WIND and SOLAR?

    Along with new energy sources dont we need new and radicle thinking about distribution too?  

    •  Local generation, ... (0+ / 0-)

      We can't do that.  At least "yet".

      Maybe later we can if dry rock geothermal pans out.  Then we can install geothermal generation close to wherever we need it.

      Right now we have to harvest wind and solar where they are "dense".  And people tend to not build cities in the windiest and sunniest places.

      Not many cities in the middle of the Great Lakes or the Southwest deserts.

      It's  just cheaper to put the turbines, panels, and mirrors where the power is strongest and ship it where we want to use it.

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:37:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent info, thanks... (5+ / 0-)

    And people interested in wind might want to read this post on The Oil Drum about how we in North America might be able to generate 50% of our electricity using wind by 2030.

    A North American Wind Energy Scenario

    15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

    by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:01:26 AM PDT

  •  Would this not apply to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, ER Doc, lightfoot
    solar and possibly nuclear power as well?
    •  yes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, ER Doc, lightfoot
      - nuclear does have a (small) fuel component, but is indeed close to wind in many respects - in particular, it should be financed (and in fact owned) by public entities;

      - solar does follow wind; the only difference is that actual costs per MWH are still significantly higher today.

      •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

        (Nuclear) should be financed (and in fact owned) by public entities

        If we're looking to public money to build new nuclear then we're accepting the fact that nuclear is too expensive/risky for private money to take on these projects.

        We know that we can replace coal with a combination of conservation and renewable energy.

        Why should we spend our tax dollars in an inefficient way?

        15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

        by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 12:19:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BobTrips

          The problem I run into with nuclear is that typically the construction budgets are quickly over run.  And because it is a nuclear plant most of the equipment and materials design is specialized from plant to plant, giving no economies of scale to take advantage of.  This is not so with wind and solar.  Even if these two are used as gap technologies, like fluorescent lighting, the economies of scale that can be used is still inherently more efficient than building more nuclear powered plants.

          A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.-Robert Frost

          by MicahT0078 on Sat May 02, 2009 at 12:46:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's not public money (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lightfoot

          it's the advantage of lower interest rates for public borrowers. That significantly lowers the cost of electricity - something that we all need, so it's worth using the public treasury's borrowing power for that purpose.

          Nuclear should not be the first priority (energy efficiency, then renewables, should come first) but it can be part of the picture, at least for the next 20-40 years.

          •  That's not what you posted... (0+ / 0-)

            You said "financed" and "owned" by public entities.

            Furthermore, making low cost loans available is using public money to help build nuclear plants.  You're donating money to the project via avoided financing costs.  (And it's largely financing that is killing new nuclear.)

            It's no different than donating land, building access roads, handing out bags of cash,....  

            15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

            by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:20:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  yes it is (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sphealey, lightfoot

              public sector entities can get finance at a lower cost. In a capital-intensive industry, it makes a stunning difference to the final cost of production.

              •  That's because... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sphealey

                Public entities provide a level of "insurance"/"loan guarantees" that are supported by our deep tax pockets.

                The risk is still there, the insurance premiums just aren't as obvious.

                15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 02:04:51 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  well (0+ / 0-)

                  the argument against public borrowing is usually that of "crowding out" of the private sector, but in that case, given that investment in the electricity sector would need to me made in any case, it has less validity and ther IS an argument that public intervention saves money on that particular indispensable investment...

                  •  Since money is finite... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Calamity Jean

                    Both in an absolute and a political sense, we need to spend it wisely.

                    I look to what private entities are willing to spend for something as a way to judge value.  Private money is being spent on wind and thermal solar.

                    Private money is not stepping forward to build nuclear.

                    I have no problem spending my tax dollars to kick start a new technology, but nuclear got that kick long, long ago.  And in huge amounts.  If nuclear can't stand on its own by now then perhaps it's time to let it die.

                    I'm for pumping tons of tax money into wind over the next few years.  Let's artificially create excessive profits so that new players enter the market.  Let's build the factories that we need to build the turbines here and train the skilled workers that we need.

                    Let's overbuild manufacturing and installation capacity now and worry about how to use those plants and employee those people 20, 30, 40 years from now when we've dodged the climate change bullet.

                    Do that and the tax dollars will come back with interest down the road.

                    15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                    by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:32:35 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Get back to me when windmills are economical (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superpole

    Doesn't anyone get tired of the absurd idea that wind and solar are going to solve our problems. At best, these technologies will slow down global warming. You call that a solution. We postpone our destruction.

    People better get off their lazy arses and stretch their minds. We need new ideas which will only occur if thinkers that visit sites like Daily Kos challenge their preconceived notions about what is possible.

    Here is a start. Get rid of our fear-based ban on conspiracy theory. It stifles many important areas of investigation. Besides, the story of global warming is intertwined with the very real conspiracy to stop new energy technology. You can scoff at such an idea, but if you haven't even had the courage to read the book The Disclosure Project, then you haven't earned the right to your small minded view.

    To repeat, get rid of the fucking ban on conspiracy theory; its existence on a Democratic site is immoral. Shame on who ever keeps this god damned rule in force. And start thinking and web surfing outside-the-box!

    All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; The point is to discover them. -Galileo

    by phild1976 on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:17:21 AM PDT

    •  Exactly! (5+ / 0-)

      If only "They" wouldn't suppress my Perpetual Motion Machine we would all have unlimited free energy and I would be shamefully rich!

      "...this nation is more than the sum of its parts ..." Barack Obama-18 March,2008

      by Inventor on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:36:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh wait... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lightfoot, Jacob Bartle

        I just saw the problem with that. If the energy is free, how am I gonna get paid?

        I could invent one of those Star Trek gizmos that makes dinner or anything else and power it with my perpetual motion machines. That way I could make anything AND undercut the Chinese.

        I'm gonna be so freakin' rich!

        "...this nation is more than the sum of its parts ..." Barack Obama-18 March,2008

        by Inventor on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:39:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Consider yourself gotten back to... (7+ / 0-)

      Read what Jerome posted.

      Furthermore, postponing "our destruction" from global climate change is just an excellent idea.

      We might not have all the solutions at this particular moment (although I think we do), slowing the rate of change gives us more time to develop better solutions.

      It's like being on a sinking ship.  

      Bailing might not keep you afloat long enough to reach shore.  But it might keep you afloat long enough for help to arrive.  

      Won't know if you don't try....

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:36:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Other Preconceived, Baseless (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mcrab

      notion which needs to be dispelled is the notion we are going to creat One million green collar jobs.

      The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

      by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:58:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Jerome made too much sense and woke up the trolls (9+ / 0-)

      Boy, there be a lot-o-crazies this morning who apparently didn't even read this admittedly longish post, yet quite insightful post. First of all, to all the Don Quixotes who want to tilt at "windmills" all 6 million windmills built in the U.S. since 1850 produced less power than 1 or 2 modern WIND TURBINES. So, get your terms straight. Second, it is clear that wind turbines have been economical for years in countries which have had sensible energy policies and have even managed to work over the strenuous objections of the Bush Crime Family. So, I'll put my money on wind turbines and all you trolls can double down on your conspiracy theories.

      "If there is no struggle, there is no progress...Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." --Frederick Douglass

      by tekno2600 on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:23:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If only you had shame (0+ / 0-)

      you can scoff at such an idea, but if you haven't even had the courage to read the book The Disclosure Project, then you haven't earned the right to your small minded view

      Do you know how narrow-minded you sound? What if I said the same thing about you because you haven't read the book 12th Century Renaissance?

      UFO-related agitprop doesn't belong here. And some people say that mysticism is dead...

      I may make you feel, but I can't make you think.

      by Jacob Bartle on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:32:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But wind is competitive or didn't you read... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sustainable

      ..the diary.

      Solar is not.

      Read the diary.

      I am responsible for the power supply of a utility. Wind is competitive.

      This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

      by itzik shpitzik on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:15:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  how long does a windmill last (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sphealey

    a) without any maintainence

    b) with regular maintainence

    and how does it compare with other power stations?

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:27:31 AM PDT

    •  25 years, with normal maintenance (7+ / 0-)

      not sure about "without any maintenance" (but normal maintenance is fairly light).

      Gas plants: 30 years
      Coal plants: 40 years
      Nukes: 40+ years
      Hydro: 50+ years

      •  thanks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc

        i'm also curious about the gains we might make from retrofitting old dams with newer turbines, i think i read something about that on the oil drum a while back.

        at the end of that period, do they need to be replaced entirely, or just worn-down components like the gearbox, etc.

        surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

        by wu ming on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:41:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The infrastructure lasts longer (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wu ming, lightfoot

          all the smaller bits, and in particular all the moving bits, will need to be replaced at some point. Turbines, gearboxes, generators, etc...

          This is part of the budgeted maintenance; this is true for all technologies.

        •  Refitting old dams with turbine/pump combo units. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wu ming, danmac, Thinking Fella, lightfoot

          Hydro is the best solution we have at the moment for power storage.  It's about 85% efficient.

          When we've got extra power (usually at night) we can pump water up and then let the turbine run at full speed when we need extra power.

          Right now, at least in the West, we don't have enough flow to run our turbines full-out 24/365.  

          If we build lots of wind generation we can time-shift some of the extra nighttime power to daytime needs and fill in the gaps when the wind slows down.

          (The Oil Drum article that I linked does a nice job talking about wind/hydro combo solutions.)

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:01:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Turbines... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, ER Doc, lightfoot, codairem

      Commonly used number is 20 years.  That's with some ongoing maintenance.  (That number may go up significantly if new turbine designs eliminate the gear boxes.)

      Turbines are roughly 50% the cost of wind farms.  The other half (concrete foundations, steel towers, access roads, power lines, etc.) should have a >50 year life span.  (Look at how long other steel and concrete structures last.)

      Hydro is long-lived.  At least until the area behind the dam silts in.  Turbines have to be replaced/rebuilt from time to time.

      Solar panels, we don't yet know, but at least 50 years.  The first ones made are still cranking out power.  (With some small decreases in efficiency.)

      Nuclear, we're extending the "good" plants out past the 40 years we expected.  (The nuclear cheerleaders actively ignore the "not so good" plants that have never worked or were shut down after a few years.)

      Thermal solar should last a long time.  Pumps and turbines will need to be rebuilt/replaced, but the mirrors, racks, etc. are going to last.

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:52:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  bob, it's not the ones that were 'shut down' or (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mcrab

        ran only a few year, the 40 years was a totally arbitrary period of time, based on hydro licensing, the only "model" up to that time we had. Most engineers will tell that most plants are good to 60 years, some even longer. New builds are designed for 60 years from the get go with the exception of the VVER from Russia which is designed out to 50 years.

        David

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:27:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nuclear cheerleaders... (0+ / 0-)

          Use 'best case' numbers.

          They don't use 'average'.

          We need to build based on average performance and not cherry-pick our data.  

          Even you acknowledge the facts when you used the word "most"

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 02:14:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I bet you can't provide a link for this. n/t (0+ / 0-)

            Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

            by billmosby on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:15:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Don't need no stinkin' link... (0+ / 0-)

              Just look up the thread at David's post.

              He talks about 40, 60 years.  He never talks about Rancho Seco, Humboldt Bay, and the other plants that were shut down and therefore pull down life expectancies for future builds.

              It's like talking about how much money can be made from a producing oil well when trying to talk someone into investing and never mentioning dry holes....

              15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

              by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:31:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  This is a conundrum... (0+ / 0-)

    actually injecting government into an erstwhile "free" market makes the larger market of users more "free" and competitive.

    This is a difficult concept to convey in a 15 sec. sound bite.

    "...this nation is more than the sum of its parts ..." Barack Obama-18 March,2008

    by Inventor on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:29:54 AM PDT

  •  Our local community college is set to offer a new (0+ / 0-)

    wind energy certificate program that should be helpful for those seeking newly created jobs in this field.  There are many wind projects either up and running, under construction, or in late planning stages here in north central Illinois.  The ball is rolling.

  •  R'd - Lack of Gov't Incentives Means Wind Power (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    can't/won't succeed.

    James Dehlsen has spent decades trying to build a bigger and better machine to convert a breeze into electricity.

    As much as anyone, he helped create the modern wind-power business, riding waves of interest in alternative energy and weathering downturns when that enthusiasm died down. At this point in the cycle, he doesn't exactly have the wind at his back.

    "The industry has been impacted pretty heavily," says Mr. Dehlsen, chairman of Clipper Windpower, one of a few U.S. wind-turbine makers. Asked about the demand for turbines, he says: "It's not up."

    Jeffrey Ball/The Wall Street Journal

    Just a few months ago, Clipper Windpower's turbines were in high demand. The company recently laid off workers.

    President Barack Obama and politicians of both parties vow a renewable-energy revolution. The ups and downs of Mr. Dehlsen's company show both the promise and the difficulty of that vision. Creating reliable energy from a fuel as fickle as the wind is difficult. Doing so without predictable and prolonged help from Capitol Hill and Wall Street is all but impossible.

    Few industries are as hard to change as energy. Fossil fuel, entrenched and convenient, follows a boom-and-bust cycle that keeps interrupting the development and adoption of alternatives. The interest in renewable energy rises with the price of oil and falls with it, too. Phasing in new energy sources on a scale big enough to matter would take consistent effort over decades -- something that, so far, hasn't happened in the biggest oil-consuming country in the world.

    Look, renewable energy-- at least the non-monopolized by big corporations, affordable kind-- is not going to survive over the long term without long term incentives from states and the federal government.

    I also want to talk about the fallacy, i.e. One Million green collar jobs are going to be created. that is wayyyy over optimistic.

    http://www.ecoearth.info/...

    The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

    by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 10:56:42 AM PDT

    •  Let's realize some basic truths... (5+ / 0-)

      Coal burning plants wear out.

      We now have an administration that is making it difficult to build new coal plants.

      Wind is the next cheapest way to produce electricity following coal.

      Wind is competitive. Right now.  It would go right on without government subsidies.  (But it is in our best interest to provide some support as that support will speed the rate of installation.)

      As we increase our wind installation we will build new turbine factories, new blade factories, new lots of things factories.

      We'll employee a lot of people doing site prep, foundation construction, tower erection, transmission line installation, etc.

      And as we add wind generation to the grid we create a lot of inexpensive nighttime electricity that can be used to charge battery powered cars.  Which will in tern give rise to more EV manufacturing.

      The number of jobs we create will be a function of how serious we get in switching from fossil fuels to renewables.

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:30:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Great.. Basic Truths (0+ / 0-)

        I'm ALL for it.. and just to give you some context, I have 25+ years in the construction biz, working on projects costing millions, running crews, etc., so I happen to know what it takes to build/install things. and I happen to know it matters whether you use union or non-union labor.

        do you agree it's not going to take more than 8 guys to install a high capacity wind turbine? do you not agree this same crew will install dozens/hundreds of units once they are trained to do so?

        As we increase our wind installation we will build new turbine factories, new blade factories, new lots of things factories.

        "lot's of things factories". kind of vague, isn't it? and frankly this goes rather large against the grain of the current trend in the U.S., i.e. moving away from a manufacturing-based economy to a service, IT, information based economy. I need some proof that is reversing; we're going back to a manufacturing based economy.

        I need real job projection numbers from energy groups, green think tanks, etc.. showing something realistic as to the One Million green jobs projection.

        I say it's more like 500,000-750,000. again, I am talking full time jobs. temp jobs are more or less irrelevant, IMHO.

        The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

        by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:52:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep, I agree... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Trendar, Superpole, lightfoot, sustainable

          do you agree it's not going to take more than 8 guys to install a high capacity wind turbine? do you not agree this same crew will install dozens/hundreds of units once they are trained to do so?

          Now, how about the folks who design the site?

          The folks who do the site prep, built the roads?

          The folks who form and pour the foundations?

          The folks who build and raise the towers?

          The folks who run the power lines?

          Looks to me as if a lot of folks are going to have good construction based jobs for a long time into the future.  Not just the 8 or so who are installing the turbine, but many other people doing all the other needed work.  

          (You have construction experience.  You know that there's more to building a new building than hooking up the air conditioning.)

          If we push very, very hard we could get 50% of our electricity within 20 or so years.  That means a lot of crews working in a lot of different places for many years.  Think major projects like the interstate highway system.

          Lots of people making decent salaries for the next two+ decades.  I can live with that.  That's "permanent" enough for me.

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 12:13:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  not to mention (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sustainable

            the bankers who finance the whole thing!

            •  Ummmm (0+ / 0-)

              Jerome, I think you know financing work is low labor intensive. you've got a handful of people involved because when it comes to dollars, one or two people are making the final call/signing the contracts.

              again, the numbers aren't there.

              The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

              by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:06:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You ignore... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Superpole
                The hoards of people who bring Jerome his coffee, clean his computer screens, fan him on hot afternoons, cook his seven course lunches....

                15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:26:32 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  LOL.. So We (0+ / 0-)

                  agree Obama is off on his One Million green jobs projection.

                  The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

                  by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:32:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well, actually we don't... (0+ / 0-)
                    I don't know if Obama's "One Million" is right or wrong.

                    But I do know that Obama is extraordinarily careful about what he says, so I'd put my money on the proven horse.

                    I'd also put my money on Reich being wrong.

                    Reality seems to be running against him on the bank bailout issue.

                    15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                    by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:53:42 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  there are lots of jobs involved (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Superpole, lightfoot

                What about the people that have to rewire your neighborhood power poles so they can support bi-directional distribution? What about the electrician who has to rewire your garage for your electric car?

                The proposed infrastructure changes to support the smart grid are quite extensive...

                •  What People Don't Seem to Get Here (0+ / 0-)

                  1.) a guy who is trained in a specific skill (electrician, for example) usually works for a contractor who markets and gets jobs.

                  that electrician or electricians go to a job, complete it and move on hopefully to the next similar job.

                  the electrical contractor does NOT hire one electrician for one job then another for the same job but different project. trust me, I work in the construction biz.. this is how it is done.

                  2.) in any given area/town/city there are already numerous contractors, electrical, plumbing, HVAC in place, with years of experience. you'll play hell starting a new company from scratch and competing with these guys.

                  that means these existing companies are going to transition gradually into doing green work, train their existing people to do it.. and still do their "traditional work".

                  bottom line: not a lot of new jobs coming.

                  What about the electrician who has to rewire your garage for your electric car?

                  OK.. assume this is going to require a 220v outlet.. the strongest power outlet typically installed in a residence.. a fridge or electric dryer might run off of 220v.

                  takes an electrician one day to install this outlet in your garage, get you a breaker in your panel.

                  next?

                  these are simple things, folks.. this is not rocket science.

                  The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

                  by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:47:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Do this... (0+ / 0-)

                    Take "one electrician one day to install this outlet in your garage" and multiply that by the millions of garages (and parking places) that will need an outlet.

                    Then realize that without electric cars coming to market those "millions of electrician days" would never gotten that phone call to come install.

                    And even if the work is done by existing companies, those companies are going to have a lot of new business and will be hiring new employees.  Not only electricians but also office staff, janitors, etc.

                    You say you work in the contracting business, but you don't sound like you do.

                    You sound more like a salesperson who's trying to convince a potential buyer that what you're selling won't cost much.  You seem to be really underestimating the project cost.

                    Try looking at the problem from the position from that of a contractor bidding a job with no cost overrun safeguard.  You well know that one has to be careful to not underestimate if one wants to stay in business.

                    15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                    by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:10:34 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  OK.. Looking At the Numbers (0+ / 0-)

            Now, how about the folks who design the site?

            Engineering firm with 4 people can do this.

            The folks who do the site prep, built the roads?

            you mean the gravel roads similar to what I see installed going into the cell phone towers? I assume you realize there's no need for freeway quality pavement to the wind turbines. not happening.

            crew of 4-6.

            The folks who form and pour the foundations?

            crew of 4.

            The folks who build and raise the towers?

            I've already talked about this--6 to 8 guys tops.

            The folks who run the power lines?

            6-8  guys.

            Look, no matter how you slice it, high capacity wind turbine are not going to employ tens of thousands of guys. our system doesn't work that way any more. it's about efficiency; about doing as much as you can with as little labor as possible.

            how about manufacturing? well, looks like Germany has a leg up, as usual when it comes to high tech machinery.

            Berlin. Wind energy continues to be a success story in Germany. Thanks to a robust domestic market, German manufacturers and suppliers are leading the way in developing wind energy worldwide. In 2007, Germany’s share of the revenue from all turbines and components produced worldwide amounted to 6.1 billion euros – 21 per cent more than in 2006. Thus in 2007, German manufacturers and suppliers contributed to nearly 28 per cent of the total worldwide turnover of 22.1 billion euros. The export quota increased from 74 per cent in 2006 to over 83 per cent in 2007. Together with installation, operation and maintenance services, the wind industry achieved a turnover of more than 7.6 billion euros.
            "The latest manufacturer survey conducted by the German Wind Energy Institute (DEWI) shows that last year the German wind industry was able to confidently assert its leading position in the worldwide market. The market share would have been even higher had manufacturers and suppliers not reached limits to their capacity first. The industry is now present in all key markets in Europe, North America and Asia with its technology and know-how," emphasized Thorsten Herdan, Managing Director of VDMA Power Systems. "German companies are building new production facilities in the growth markets in the U.S. and China. In 2008, it is expected that 8,000 and 5,000 megawatts of new wind capacity will be installed in the U.S. and China alone," according to Herdan.

            I would also look to Germany for info on the installation of the units. I'm guessing they've got that dialed in pretty well... i.e. not a lot of labor needed.

            http://www.wind-energie.de/...

            The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

            by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:04:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Doing the math... (0+ / 0-)

              4 + "4 to 6" + "6 to 8" + "6 to 8" = a lot more than your original estimate of 8.

              And we haven't included the extra work at the local gravel crusher, the people cooking more lunches at the local dinner, the guy who comes to fix the Cat when it throws a tread, the guy driving the diesel tanker, the bookkeeper, the ....  

              Then, in 2008 we installed 8,300 megawatts of new wind generation.  That means that hundreds of crews were working during the year to get those thousands of turbines up an on line.  Multiply that by what it would take to produce 50% of our power from wind within 20 years.

              Are there a million new green 20+ year jobs that will be created by wind?  I'm in no position to gen those numbers.  But I can look at how you're downplaying the size of this project and suspect you're blowing "nega-smoke".

              15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

              by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:45:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Reposting this (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Superpole

                Here's the best estimate from the European Wind Energy asscoaition (see link above in the thread):

                •  15.1 per MW, 8,300 MW in 2008... (0+ / 0-)

                  125,330 jobs for an enterprise in its infancy.

                  And there's no indirect employment included in the 15.1.

                  Just the donut shops and roach coaches alone....

                  15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                  by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 02:00:27 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Good Chart, Thanks (0+ / 0-)

                  one issue.. are these full time jobs.. over what time period?

                  151,316 jobs in total EU nations participating or one nation?

                  another issue is EU nations tend to me less efficient with their labor.. the labor numbers in the U.S. are not going to be apples-to-apples comparable.. companies here are not going to be paying union guys to stand around, or paying for three supervisors when they only need one.

                  The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

                  by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 02:06:09 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Look, Stop the Nonsense (0+ / 0-)

                I originally said 8 guys to install the turbine units.

                I did not say 8 guys to do everything, the engineering, the temp road, etc.. you need to go back and read my post.

                even adding the additional laborers to my original 8, where do you figure there's "lots" of jobs coming to install the units?

                and define "lots".. if you're thinking 3,000 people total across the U.S., then that's likely to be a good estimate. LONG way to go to get to that One million green jobs number.

                how many total wind turbines do you or anyone here estimate are going to be installed in the U.S,?

                The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

                by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 02:02:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Come on... (0+ / 0-)

                  Your crew of eight can't install a turbine until there's a tower erected.  And they can't erect a tower until there's a foundation.  And on it goes.

                  We installed several thousand turbines last year in the US.  

                  We need to install multiples of that several thousand per year for the next 20-40 years.

                  We might install less if the price of thermal solar and PV solar continue to drop.  But those projects will also create jobs.

                  15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

                  by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:15:21 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  But these are guesses... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NRG Guy, sustainable

              Why not do actual "looking at the numbers" of people employed now?

              Germany: the BWE estimates the industry there "currently employs more than 100,000 people."

              USA: a recent AWEA press release states: "The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added in the US last year, and created 35,000 new jobs, for a total of 85,000 employed in the sector in the US".

              Of course, those are industry advocacy group estimates and as such may be a generous methodology - and much of the German employment is because of exports, not domestic supply. But that is still a lot of jobs right  now for an electricity source currently providing 2% of US and 6% of German generation.

              Since nearly half of US electricity is from coal, and this is the source with highest rates of greenhouse gas emissions, let's look at coal employment. A Sourcewatch page citing BLS and EIA stats indicates about 80,000 in coal mining, 30,000 in coal transportation, and 60,000 in coal-fired plants:

              Total coal-related jobs

              There are approximately 174,000 blue-collar, full-time, permanent jobs related to coal in the U.S.: mining (83,000), transportation (31,000), and power plant employment (60,000). (See below for details on each sector.) The U.S. civilian labor force totaled 141,730,000 workers in 2005; thus, permanent blue-collar coal industry employees represent 0.12% of the U.S. workforce.[1] (Compare this percentage with the 1.89% of U.S. workers who worked in coal mining alone in 1920.)

              Because of the characteristics of its generation (nearly half from coal, and 40% of the nation's coal comes from Wyoming where it is mined at very low cost with 6% of the nation's coal mining workforce), the U.S. gets its current electricity with a exceptionally low level of employment. Decreasing coal and increasing renewables in the electricity mix will inevitably create many more jobs.

  •  Agreed! And you should and to this comparative .. (0+ / 0-)

    RIO analysis, the fact that NUCLEAR powers has an unaccounted for, MASSIVE cost, in terms of INSURANCE LIABILITY, which the FED GOV assumes, so the Energy Generating Nuclear Plant does not have to pay for this ... whereas, in EVERY other industry on the planet, the business needs to pay for their insurance liability costs ... and if you levied that cost upon the nuclear industry, then the cost of electricity for Nuclear would not be as low as it is ...  

    ~we study the old to understand the new~from one thing know ten thousand~to see things truly one must see what is in the light and what lies hidden in shadow~

    by ArthurPoet on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:08:40 AM PDT

    •  But so far such "MASSIVE" costs hasn't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mcrab

      cost the gov't/taxpayer a penny. Seems like a big red herring to me.

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:28:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  ahh, that is a misleading & erroneous conclusion, (0+ / 0-)

        First, insurance for long term risk factors are a relevant aspect of any (and all) RIO analysis ... whether or not the payout for that insurance contract is exercised ... and the long term factors for nuclear, are in terms of millennium, not decades, therefore, to characterize them as a "red herring" is entirely misguided and worse than that, it is short-sighted in the extreme, even if no cost has yet been incurred, (which is not even true, see below) that is kind of like saying, "Well, I drove my car for 24 hours and had no crash, so I no longer believe I need insurance. So I canceled it.)

        Second, you seem to have strangely forgotten about THREE MILE ISLAND and CHERNOBYL ... and, I dare say, the cost of THREE MILE ISLAND and CHERNOBYL, to humanity was massive ... Ahhh, yeah, hate to break it to you, but these did cost the USofA and humanity FAR MORE than a "penny" .... so I am really not sure what logic you are drawing your statement from.

        Listen, regardless of TMI/CHERNOBYL, we have to consider things from a macro perspective, and to take off the "blinders" as they say ... In other words, we, as a humanity, must maintain a truly global long term MACRO perspective, or we are being glaringly stupid, and our analysis will not be accurate and we will therefore not address humanity's long term needs correctly or sufficiently. Look, the true topic here is humanity, not merely the USofA ... We are one planet .... and as such, these are the entirely relevant and appropriate comparative costs ... so that we, as a species, deal with our energy needs appropriately, not under a skewed analysis, wherein we leave our future generations with a cost that they will never be able to support. Listen, with all due respect, I am stressing this because virtually all of the comparative cost analysis and benefits of RENEWABLE BENIGN SUSTAINABLE energy projects do not accurately take into account, in fiscal terms, why they are better, (AND THEY NEED TO) and this is usually because of the skewed contrived low costs of Nuclear, which offsets, not only Nuclear, but all other sources .... ie, if Nuclear were not in the mix, then the price would be far higher, and then the value of wind energy, or other alternative energies, or energy saving technologies, would be profitable. This is why, I assert, the fed gov and the nuclear industry must subsidize these other industries, so that there is a level playing field, for true and fair competition to ensue.

        ~we study the old to understand the new~from one thing know ten thousand~to see things truly one must see what is in the light and what lies hidden in shadow~

        by ArthurPoet on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:29:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  An important economic factor missing (0+ / 0-)

    When you take a lower cost of capital for funding through public sources, one needs to include more than the cost of interest.  For example, if long term bonds were issued by California paying 5% interest, the major investors will be high income California tax payers.  So with the soon to be 39.6% Federal and 10% state income tax, the Federal and State government give up about 4% in lost tax revenues - so the real cost of capital is about 9% not just the 5% interest rate on the bond

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:47:26 AM PDT

  •  One Reality Check Problem (0+ / 0-)

    Depsite the production tax credits being renewed there are few wind farms going ahead in producton in the United States. The major players can't get financing.

    The banks and investors that financed US windfarms the last few years are simply out of cash - or do not need the tax credits (becuase they made no money).

    Hopefully this will change soon.

    "I can't believe that the noblest impulse of man-- his compassion for another-- can be completely dead here."

    by Daxman on Sat May 02, 2009 at 11:58:52 AM PDT

    •  Few? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BruceMcF, BobTrips

      More than 8,000MW were built last year, and 2,800 MW were built in the first quarter of this year, despite the financial crisis (I was amazed when the number came out).

      •  I don't see many more for the rest of the year (0+ / 0-)

        I worked on financing many of the US deals in the first quarter but they were set up months ago. There are very few deals being given the greenlight in the US right now. Financing has dropped on the cliff.

        I am still hopeful and I am greatful for your in depth diary.  But the US market at the moment is waiting to get jump started again.  I may learn more about this at the AWEA conference this week.

        "I can't believe that the noblest impulse of man-- his compassion for another-- can be completely dead here."

        by Daxman on Sun May 03, 2009 at 12:02:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  misleading chart (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    Your chart supposedly shows wind just slightly more expensive than oil in the year 2030. That, to me, seems pretty surprising since we really have little idea how much oil is even left and how fast we will be going through it at our present exponentially expanding use. Therefore, I would expect oil to increase in cost enormously in the next decade. In fact, I thoroughly expect large scale warfare over the dwindling supply in the near future.

  •  A Couple of Points (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, Notreadytobenice

    I think this is an excellent diary, i would just like to add some of my insights from working within the industry (By the way, my points may seem negative, but I am totally in favor of wind development, but it is iomprotant to know some of the roadblocks along the way).

    1. Unfortunately, this diary misses a very important cost, the need for additional transmission.  Wind, unlike coal or natural gas, cannot be built near existing network power facilities, the facilities have to be built near the wind.  And invariably the best places to build wind are the places where there is no transmission because they are also the places where there are no people.  This also highlights another issue with transmission, planning for new transmission takes many, many years and in the old model used to only be built when there was gereration dedicated to it.  Renewables presents and unfortunate chicken and egg problem, transmission won't be uilt if there is no generation, generation won't be built if there is no transmission. This tended not to be as much of an issue with fossil fuel plants because they were genreally sized such that the two projects (genration and transmission) could be developed and capitalized together.  However, renewables tend to need to be clusterd, from many producers to support new transmission and no one developer can really bear the burden on their own. Of course these issues are in the process of being worked out.  It just requires a new paradigm as well as some new regulation.
    1. One benefit of wind not mentioned is that traditional fossil fuel plants require water, lots of water, and water is not an unlimited resourece, especially in the west.  Wind dioes not require any water, doesn't need to be near water, doesn't need a pipe for water, etc.
    1. Wind Farms have a MUCH MUCH bigger footprint than fossil fuel plants.  This is a big deal, environmentalist understand the need for clean energy, but they are also wary of other environmental concerns being steamrolled in the rush to clean energy.  And there are always local groups who will protest.  Believe me NIMBYism, is alive and well and it favors no political party. I cannot tell you how many times I have been to public meetings where someone gets up to talk and says, "I totally support developing renewable energy, but..."

    Having said all this, I do believe in wind energy.  My experience lately has actually been that the economics are not really the problem.  But it is a bit unfair to say it is all politics, at least from the fossil fuel indutry.  There are significant NIMBYism and transmission issues that are also slowing the progress of wind.  In my opinion these are the issues that affect wind development at a state and local level.

    One other thing,  Look at this:

    Wind turbine efficiency increased with passive structure design

    It’s called Wind Energizer, and is a development achieved by Leviathan Energy. According to the company, their passive structure design increases wind turbine efficiency by as much as 30% in field tests, at nominal wind speeds.

    The model for increasing energy output from wind turbines is to make them bigger, which means more wind energy is harnessed. There is a limit to this method, as wind turbine rotors quickly reach massive proportions. If Leviathan Energy’s Wind Energizer proves to be the real thing, it could revolutionize the wind energy industry. Basically, by placing passive objects around a wind farm, the current of air is  redirected towards the wind turbine rotors - more air passes through the blades, so more energy is harnessed.

    Wind Energizer is a conical surface structure placed at the foot of a wind turbine tower. It is made from steel and plastic, and its dimensions are tailored according to specific operation conditions (blade length, prevailing wind direction, wind intensity, etc). The flow of the oncoming air is shaped in a way that highest velocities hit the blades, which can significantly increase the cost-effectiveness of wind generators, according to Dr. Daniel Farb, Leviathan Energy CEO.

    Initial testing had the device measured at an average 20-40% improvement in turbine output. At lower wind speeds (<6 m/s) the turbine with Wine Energizer gained as much as 150% in power increase. Testing has been done on a smaller scale, on blades 3 meters in diameter. The company is currently exploring options for commercial scale testing and certification. Wind Energizer is expected to increase the life span of wind turbines, as well as decrease maintenance costs. </p>

    Pretty cool!

    When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Gangster Octopus on Sat May 02, 2009 at 12:15:28 PM PDT

    •  The best US wind places (0+ / 0-)

      are offshore near major cities.

      This power could be used in a price sensitive manner.

      When the wind blows, your hot water might cost 6 cents a kilowatt and come out of the faucet at 103 degrees.

      When the wind doesn't blow, your hot water might cost 10 cents a kilowatt and come out of the faucet at 100 degrees.

      •  I Wonder Why Then (0+ / 0-)

        why is T.Boone Pickens, buying major amounts of acreage in the Texas to Dakotas wind corridor??

        http://earth2tech.com/...

        might it have something to do with all of the leases he would hold for the wind turbines to be installed?

        The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

        by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:38:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well Centrally located wind has advantages (0+ / 0-)

          There are people in the center of the country who need electricity too.

          Offshore wind is an option, but there are currently some technical limitations.

          When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

          by Gangster Octopus on Sat May 02, 2009 at 02:56:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There's Already at Least One Company (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tmo

            Michigan-based, I believe, working on putting together the new digital grid to get the wind corridor energy to the midwest pop. centers.

            don't worry, it's in the works.

            The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

            by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:21:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Best not to view T. Boone... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tmo

          As the leading expert in green energy.

          He's kind of the new kid on the block and at least one of his ideas (running our cars with natural gas) has flamed out.

          He's just getting a lot of attention because a) he's one of the old oil guys in transition and b)he has a lot of money and name recognition to spend.

          That's not to say that there isn't some wisdom in developing central corridor wind, there is.  

          But that wind should be purposed for Dallas and Saint Louis.  

          Chicago would be better/cheaper served by Lake Michigan wind, New York by Jersey shore wind, ....

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:26:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  to react (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, danmac, lightfoot
      1. there are 2 transmission issues: one is the actual connection to the nearest point of the grid: that is always included in the investment budget. The other is to ensure that the oerall grid architecture can handle the new power flows created by wind power. That's a trickier one, indeed;
      1. water was mentioned in the thread; I should indeed have pointed this point out in my diary, as it is a major externality to which wind provides a ready solution;
      1. I disagree on the foot print: wind farms in rural areas barely occupy a few square meters, and do not prevent normal farming activity around them. Esthetics, well, that's another thing, but not everybody thinks they're ugly...

      As to new technologies, I personally tend to believe they work when they have been proven, which happens surprisingly (or not) rarely...

      •  to rereact (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jerome a Paris
        1. The first transmission issue is an issue in the US because of the vast empty spaces.  Getting wind from areas in Wyoming Idaho, California, Colorado, the Dakotas etcetera requires not just genreation plant interconnection to the system, but trunk lines and network upgrades.  The thing is that in the past usually you could get one 1000MW natural gas plant to agree and to agree to pay their part, so you could show you had a sink and therefore it was worth the money the regulators would approve.  However, with wind that is a stickier issue.  It is not insurmountable, it is more a regulatory, rate recovery issue.  Siting transmission, fo course has it's own issues.
        1. We agree.
        1. I am not sure about what you are saying here.  Maybe we are tallking about differnt things.  I tend to think in terms of large 2.5-5MW wind turbines, spread out over miles and miles, not just a few square meters.  And this is not a killing issue, it is just another complication along the way.

        Genreally I agree the economics are not the issue, but there are other issues that make it difficult.

        When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

        by Gangster Octopus on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:17:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Size of wind farm vs. size of turbine foot... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tmo

          Different issues.  

          And I'm one who thinks the turbines beautiful.  But I wouldn't want to live right up next to one.  

          Finding the right sites is something that will have to be worked out as we go.

          Those people who make a nice steady income from leasing out part of their ranch or farm are likely to find the turbines quite attractive.  That's what is happening in places like the Texas Panhandle where the local economies are enjoying those monthly checks.

          Have many people objected to an oil well on their property when the black stuff was flowing?

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:35:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  All volatile renewable energy requires ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo

      ... long distance transmission. Indeed, a big build up of nuclear would require long distance transmission.

      The main issue is the pooling of variable demands and/or supplies in order to smooth out volatility.

      Our current energy supply system requires back up supplies and relies in part on shifting a given supply of dispatchable hydropower to the time of day when it does the most good.

      Adding 20% wind from a single wind resource to an existing regional grid is, in other words, a bigger grid management problem than adding 20% wind from four or five wind resources to four or five existing regional grids, provided those grids are interconnected with long haul lines that allow the pooling of the power.

      The "20% Wind by 2030" report from the DoE found that with sufficient addition of long-haul capacity, the US would not need any additional reserve capacity or any additional dammed hydro capacity in order to cope with the volatility of the pooled supply.

    •  Not sure this is true... (0+ / 0-)

      Wind Farms have a MUCH MUCH bigger footprint than fossil fuel plants.  

      You need to include the mining and oil field footprint when you calculate fossil fuel land use.

      And don't over measure wind farm footprints.  Little of the land is taken out of farming/grazing use.  Only the tower foundations.

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 04:21:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary. Where I live there is no subsidy (4+ / 0-)

    for wind,  no feed-in tariff of any type. Despite that, it has a higher share of new planned capacity than any other source.

    This is because of a number of factors that make wind appealing, in addition to the obvious carbon emission benefits: the country (New Zealand) has many sites with ideal wind conditions (capacity factors for the wind farms operating now are 40-45%); spot electricity prices are mostly very cheap here (more than 50% comes from hydro) but highly variable in "dry" years; and a significant amount of electricity is transmitted on a long (600km) HVDC interisland link, so wind in NZ can reduce transmission losses.

    But wind is still only 3% of total electricity generation here. It could be far higher with suitable government support that recognizes the many benefits of wind beyond the profits made by generation companies.

    The comments of the chief executive of the NZ Wind Energy Association last week at the opening of a new wind farm, echo many of the points made in this diary:

    ...

    "Project West Wind will supplement existing generation sources and its output will provide a natural complement to hydro generation."

    "Wind energy also helps to ensure electricity remains affordable. The low and well-understood cost of operating a wind farm provides generators with confidence in the cost of generating electricity well into the future. It also provides a valuable hedge against the variable costs of other forms of generation," says Mr Clark. Forecasts released last week by the Electricity Commission show the price of gas for electricity generation doubling by 2020. Gas generation will also be subject to a price on carbon emissions when the energy sector enters the Emissions Trading Scheme.

    "Wind farms also create important benefits such as reduced transmission losses and the suppression of spot electricity prices." Analysis presented at last week's Wind Energy Conference suggested that generation from the Manawatu wind farms reduces average spot electricity prices by $10/MWh.

  •  Great diary! (0+ / 0-)

    I really appreciate the quantitative parts and the graphs. You made the economics perfectly understandable.

    Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

    by billmosby on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:03:59 PM PDT

  •  A real discount rate should reflect real returns: (0+ / 0-)

    Thus, one could make an argument for setting the discount rate at the average return on equity for other investments over the past several years. Those of us with 401Ks (and probably most of the rest of us) would agree that even 5% is quite high compared to actual recent returns.

    I also agree with the diarist that discount rates are a poor metric.  In particular, they do not reflect risk. In real life, the risk associated with investment in wind power is much lower than that for nuclear power (another accident could wipe out returns), coal power (sensitive to people coming to their senses about pollution) or natural gas power (hostage to fluctuating prices -- see the excellent discussion in this diary or Managing Natural Gas Price Risk: a Program to Maximise Margins in the Natural Gas Industry.

    Real investors take risk into account -- wind power sure looks good when viewed in that light.

  •  Germany Kickin' It On Wind Power (0+ / 0-)

    Berlin. Wind energy continues to be a success story in Germany. Thanks to a robust domestic market, German manufacturers and suppliers are leading the way in developing wind energy worldwide. In 2007, Germany’s share of the revenue from all turbines and components produced worldwide amounted to 6.1 billion euros – 21 per cent more than in 2006. Thus in 2007, German manufacturers and suppliers contributed to nearly 28 per cent of the total worldwide turnover of 22.1 billion euros. The export quota increased from 74 per cent in 2006 to over 83 per cent in 2007. Together with installation, operation and maintenance services, the wind industry achieved a turnover of more than 7.6 billion euros.
    "The latest manufacturer survey conducted by the German Wind Energy Institute (DEWI) shows that last year the German wind industry was able to confidently assert its leading position in the worldwide market. The market share would have been even higher had manufacturers and suppliers not reached limits to their capacity first. The industry is now present in all key markets in Europe, North America and Asia with its technology and know-how," emphasized Thorsten Herdan, Managing Director of VDMA Power Systems. "German companies are building new production facilities in the growth markets in the U.S. and China. In 2008, it is expected that 8,000 and 5,000 megawatts of new wind capacity will be installed in the U.S. and China alone," according to Herdan.

    http://www.wind-energie.de/...

    The bank bailouts are a failure. Robert Reich

    by Superpole on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:33:41 PM PDT

  •  using renewables as actual hedge for utilities? (0+ / 0-)

    There is currently some trading in Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and utilities buy oil and gas futures to hedge against price shocks, has there been any efforts to combine the 2?  If consortiums wishing to build more renewable energy facilities could sell RECs for peak demand times on the same markets as oil and gas futures, couldn't they more easily fund their start-up costs?  Instead of utilities buying only oil and gas futures, they can add to their portfolio RECs that convert to power that they can resell to their customers during peak times.  

    Is this already being done and not mentioned anywhere? I feel like I am asking a really obvious question here...

  •  Preliminary Question (0+ / 0-)

    I have to admit up front that I have not read this yet.  I plan to.  Not much time right now so I did a quick word search of what I have found to be key issues related to answering the question of whether wind turbines are worth it.

    Land - as it pertains to use of land per unit of electricity - not found
    road - as it pertains to how much roadway must be installed/maintained to provide access to the turbines for maintenance - not found
    capacity factor - as it pertains to the availability of electricity for use on the grid - not found

    I did find maintenance, and steel, but not concrete, people, personnel or workers.  

    Now, I know this is just word search, but can anyone assure me that the following issues are adequately addressed in this article?

    Capacity factor compared to leading competitive sources of power generation, namely coal and nuclear.  This comparison goes under the assumption that wind power advocates believe that it is abundant/available enough to compete with the next two most abundant/available sources.

    Maintenance in worker hours and dollars, compared to leading competitive sources.

    Land use, including roads necessary per unit of supplied electricity compared to leading competitive sources.

    Use of concrete and steel combined, compared to leading competitive sources.

    Before attempting to answer any of this please keep in mind that the capacity factor of wind cannot competitively support electricity demands on the grid on its own merit and storage/battery technology does not yet exist to change this fact.  So another source which can be stopped/started on short notice must be identified.  This is usually in the form of Nat. Gas Generators.  If you do not factor in the additional cost of backup NG power stations, including construction, maintenance, etc.  it will not be a fair comparison.   Also, the emissions of CO2 from NG is high and must be accounted. It must be regarded as one package, as you simply cannot justify a selective case for wind power, when wind power cannot provide our needs if it were the only source used.  Whereas nuclear could, and coal could.  

    As a Californian who witnesses the infrequency of spinning wind turbines in my own state, I have NO anecdotal examples of benefit to my electricity rates. It's my understanding that those people who live in the southeastern portion of the U.S. and other parts of the country where nuclear power is more prevalent, they experience more stable rates due to the high capacity factor of nuclear, and the cost diminishment which has been proven to occur after the passing of time (post construction) and the previous underestimations of the resiliency of nuclear reactors becomes evident.  

    I hope I have time to come back and read this whole article.  

    Thanks.

    •  What an arrogant comment! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, billmosby

      You haven't read the diary and you write an essay challenging it? Where I come from that's called chutzpah!

      The capacity factor question is central to the whole diary, and repudiates your uninformed comments, and makes your question about road/kwh ot steel per kwh absurdly irrelevant. Unless you want to count the steel, roads, railroads and fuel needed to move fossil fuel, or mine uranium, eg, you're making a fully dishonest comparison.

      Chutzpah! I have never seen someone admit to not reading a diary before commenting. That's honest of you to admit at leasr

      This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

      by itzik shpitzik on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:13:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You could almost have read it... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      .. in the time it took you to make these comments, which I suspect might be mostly irrelevant to the diary. I'm not sure, though, because I didn't have time to read your whole comment.

      How does that sound?

      Actually, the diary was about the economics of the pricing of wind energy when it is used to replace a portion of the other sources of energy currently used to meet daily fluctuating demand.

      Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

      by billmosby on Sat May 02, 2009 at 05:08:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hello, Jerome. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, Calamity Jean

    .
     Keep 'em coming.  Thank you.  Really.

    "BenGoshi"

    ___________________________

    "Unseen, in the background, Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing-glove." -- P.G. Wodehouse (via Bertie Wooster)

    by BenGoshi on Sat May 02, 2009 at 02:35:44 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary. About feed in tariffs... (0+ / 0-)

    You can call it a tariff and say it goes to the local utility where the wind facility is.

    Or not.

    You can also just have a plain old-fashioned long-term bilateral contract at a fixed or fixed plus inflation price, whether the facility is connected directly to the utility, or whether the utility is somewhere else within the transmission grid region.

    This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

    by itzik shpitzik on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:06:26 PM PDT

  •  But Solar Power Would Be Better. (0+ / 0-)

    Wind is a great alternative to oil, gas and nuclear, but it is both very loud and very ugly.  Having visited a wind farm on the coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, I can attest that it is very noisy for its neighbors.

    The sun's energy, however, is very quiet and very constant -- if captured above the clouds. An orbiting solar paneled satellite could supply energy anywhere in the world, wirelessly.

    See: http://%20http://www.mysolarpower.or...

    Extra-terra solar energy production is where out development funds should be directed.

    Genital Slicing IS Torture: Convict Bush and His War criminals.

    by Justina on Sat May 02, 2009 at 03:29:35 PM PDT

    •  Cost... (0+ / 0-)

      Space based solar is an interesting idea, but it might well be much more expensive than other alternatives.

      You might wish to give this a read....

      Climate Progress

      Wind farms here on the Mainland, we can put them out in the 'back 40'.  We're not as cramped for space as are the Islands.

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sat May 02, 2009 at 06:04:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary Jerome (0+ / 0-)

    Alternate energy works for me on several levels: jobs, the environment,new technologies,national security, and the need to stop making other countries rich at our expense.

  •  Yes, but... (0+ / 0-)

    I'm all in favor of increased wind use, but...

    1. A 20 year lifespan for the plants makes for an unfair comparison. Conventional power plants last much longer. There are coal/oil plants in the NYC area which are 50-75 years old and still in daily use. Even the local nuclear plant which was built to last for 40 years is pushing to be allowed to operate another 40 years.

    So for a full lifecycle comparison you need to add in replacing worn wind turbines several times during this span. Given how much simpler wind generators are compared to fossil fuel plants, especially when you include the cost of fuel transport infrastructure and waste disposal, the construction cost seems out of line. The electric generators are of similar design and a big propeller is much cheaper than a furnace. So why are wind farms so costly? I see gouging going on by the suppliers. In other words they are pricing their equipment to be competitive against conventional generators. This is an instance where some government sponsored competition might prove beneficial.

    1. Feed-in tariffs are designed to make bankers happy (sorry Jerome). The recent history of the energy markets has seen a shift away from long-term fuel supply contracts, until we got to the extreme of Enron where pricing was on an hourly basis. I don't see the other players in the field going along with such a model. As long as wind remains an insignificant part of the total capacity there won't be any resistance, but if it starts to make a real dent you can expect to see opposition from conventional energy suppliers who will claim that this is an unfair government-mandated subsidy.
    1. It is certainly true that putting a price on externalities will make renewables more competitive, but economists have no good models for pricing non-renewable resources and so the policy decisions are not based upon any theoretical foundation. The prices charged for permits are more influenced by political considerations than anything else.
    1. I'll repeat my usual mantra. No realistic amount of renewable power is going to become available in the next several decades. By realistic I mean enough to cause a substantial change in carbon emissions. Even an increase to 20-30% of world generating capacity will only compensate for the increased demand to be expected from the additional 3 billion people we will see populating the world. Instead of making things better all that will happen is that they will get worse more slowly.
    1. The only solution is a change in our social/economic system away from consumerism and consumption-driven, raw material based, capitalism. As I've said many times before, I have no idea what a new system should look like, I just know that if no one is willing to contemplate such ideas we won't come up with anything. All efforts these days are devoted to re-inflating the capitalist bubble as quickly as possible. We need some new thinking, unconstrained by "conventional wisdom".
SME in Seattle, ElitistJohn, clb, myriad, Ed in Montana, vicki, RedMeatDem, ferg, Rayne, SarahLee, teacherken, Sparhawk, apsmith, Trendar, AaronInSanDiego, moon in the house of moe, asdf, Maxlongstreet, alisonk, Rolfyboy6, Danno11, RunawayRose, John Carter, bread, sphealey, dengre, RAST, wu ming, shycat, LEP, jdld, devtob, frisco, ZAPatty, Bryce in Seattle, theran, RFK Lives, BenGoshi, object16, silence, bigforkgirl, rwsab, Justina, bronte17, robertdfeinman, BlackGriffen, wonkydonkey, nyceve, OCD, KMc, linh, retrograde, roses, SAQuestor, Ignacio Magaloni, exconservative, chrisfreel, Oke, nicta, Ryvr, Dallasdoc, Miss Jones, pointsoflight, Sycamore, KevinEarlLynch, draghnfly, electionlawyer, alizard, Pohjola, tomjones, fran1, jcrit, kd texan, ganymeade, avahome, Josiah Bartlett, hirschnyc, rapala, nailbender, mediaprisoner, bloomer 101, saodl, pattyp, baccaruda, greatferm, JanetT in MD, Superpole, drewfromct, TigerMom, YucatanMan, Dobber, Laurence Lewis, billybush, Sun Tzu, where4art, GreyHawk, Burned, Lindy, jo in seattle, JanL, Land of Enchantment, Bernard, ChuckInReno, Asinus Asinum Fricat, Reptile, kovie, suz in seattle, BachFan, danmac, Dr Envirocrat, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Keone Michaels, ej25, trentinca, yamamizu, CDNNTX, HoundDog, buhdydharma, KenBee, sailmaker, DarkestHour, sravaka, Elvis meets Nixon, tecampbell, jasonbl, imabluemerkin, NearlyNormal, bleeding heart, justCal, bunk, ER Doc, doinaheckuvanutjob, Turbonerd, means are the ends, JayGR, Snarcalita, Lurtz, Hedwig, blueintheface, Cartoon Messiah, Thinking Fella, One Pissed Off Liberal, phonegery, lightfoot, bldr, dmh44, california keefer, possum, moodyinsavannah, offgrid, BruceMcF, Blue State 68, CTDemoFarmer, Inventor, greenchiledem, Unbozo, Strabo, bnasley, gatorbot, jnhobbs, millwood, Moderation, Dar Nirron, JML9999, TexasTwister, TomP, ashwken, gizmo59, BustaVessel, kafkananda, seriously70, swampus, NRG Guy, angel65, monkeybrainpolitics, Calamity Jean, senilebiker, codairem, paul spencer, aigeanta, Blueslide, SunWolf78, Justanothernyer, rhutcheson, papicek, SolarMom, MicahT0078, sjbob, Neon Vincent, sustainable, TheOtherJimM, bsmechanic, ScientistSteve, earicicle, EquationDoc, mississippi boatrat, ancblu, elziax, obscuresportsquarterly, IreGyre, realwischeese, ArthurPoet, Tommymac, Leftcandid, Cleopatra, Larsstephens, Amber6541, Just Bob, BigVegan, Snof, angelesmartian, p gorden lippy, budr, LaughingPlanet, robertacker13, UTvoter, chrome327, wvmom, Man from Wasichustan, polar bear, Eddie L, NY brit expat, samanthab, SoCalHobbit, Quijibow, pateTX, nosleep4u, rasfrome, Jill Richardson, Colorado is the Shiznit, RepTracker, bluebuckaroo, implicate order, itzik shpitzik, Victory of Renegades, AfroPonix, zukesgirl64, Shes a Riot, Element 61, Muskegon Critic, incognita, gokinsmen, antooo, zapus, TheSometimesWhy, myrmecia gulosa, MinistryOfTruth, curtisgrahamduff, cailloux, Dbug

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