Author Topic: It's time for wind power to stand or fall on its own  (Read 285 times)

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Online rangerrebew

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It's time for wind power to stand or fall on its own
« on: December 28, 2013, 08:29:33 AM »

http://theweek.com/article/index/254155/its-time-for-wind-power-to-stand-or-fall-on-its-own



World

It's time for wind power to stand or fall on its own

After two decades of generosity, wind power subsidies should be allowed to expire at the end of the year

Published December 27, 2013, at 9:10 AM


 
Wind turbines near Wingate, Texas.    Photo: (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Federal subsidies for wind energy are set to expire at the end of the year. Again.

Since 1992, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) has offered generous federal subsidies to wind generators. Under the policy, wind generators are eligible for 2.3 cents in taxpayer subsidies for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of wind electricity generated. That's nearly a third of the total retail price of electricity for industrial customers.

Federal subsidies for wind are so lavish, that generators in places like west Texas (where wind is plentiful) have been known to bid electricity onto the grid at negative prices, just so it can collect the larger subsidy amount and pocket the difference. Negative pricing is a great deal for whoever owns the generator, but can play havoc with electrical reliability, by undercutting other power sources and discouraging investment in new capacity.

Yet despite literally paying people to take their electricity, wind power represents just 3.5 percent of all electricity generation in the United States. The big problem is not so much cost as reliability. Wind power is intermittent; it has a nasty habit of stopping, sometimes on a moment's notice. And since there is no commercially viable means of storing electricity, use of wind power requires the existence of back-up power plants (typically natural gas) that can be ramped up or down depending on which way the wind blows. This sort of redundancy is not only inefficient, but emissions levels are higher during the process of ramping a gas plant up and down, cancelling at least part of the environmental benefits of using wind. No amount of subsidies for generators will solve these problems, and, in fact, subsidies could serve to aggravate it by undercutting the profitability of back-up sources of power.

Even in Europe, where wind subsidies can be even more lavish (and where electricity prices are far higher) than in the United States, intermittency poses an insurmountable problem. A study by the Danish think tank CEPOS, for example, found that while wind generators managed to generate the equivalent of 19 percent of Denmark's total electrical demand, wind accounted for less than 10 percent of electrical consumption.

The PTC was initially billed as a temporary measure designed to encourage the development of wind electricity until it was ready to compete with other energy sources. The temporary nature of the PTC, however, has in practice tended to be a bit of a mirage. Each time the PTC is set to expire, wind lobbyists turn up to argue that the industry just needs a little more time to mature, and the credit ends up getting a stay of execution. The latest such reprieve came at the end of last year, when a one year extension of the PTC for wind was slipped into the fiscal cliff deal.

This time should be different. If wind isn't competitive after more than two decades of federal support, there's no reason to think that a few more years will change that, particularly when many states offer additional subsidies and mandates for renewable energy. Instead of trying to protect wind from competition, the federal government should step aside and let the industry find its own niche in the market.
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Offline aligncare

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Re: It's time for wind power to stand or fall on its own
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2013, 08:54:30 AM »
There is a niche for wind power: at the point of use – the home or business owner. Small, unobtrusive, modern turbines can be designed into structures and supplement electricity use.

But this blueprint is a market based, competitive, consumer oriented, growth industry approach; not a top-down government-subsidized, "feel-good" boondoggle.
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: It's time for wind power to stand or fall on its own
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2013, 09:11:03 AM »
Over in Oregon, the legislature passed a bill several years ago that granted enormous tax discounts of $10 Million per project to wind farm developers.  There was a large project that was just starting when that bill passed, and instead of qualifying for one discount, the company went back and on paper broke it down into three projects, promptly filed for and got three $10 Million tax breaks.  A lot of people are raising hell about that but the money is already gone and besides, the whole thing was in strict accordance with the law the legislature passed.

The real kicker though is that the output of every single turbine installed was pre-dedicated to the California grid for a decade, which happens to be about what the service life of those turbines is.  In addition, the raptor population on the West Coast is plummeting from turbine blade strikes, but the environmentalists who were so adamant we remove all the dams on rivers to save the fish, have stood largely silent while golden eagles are pulverized daily by wind turbine blade strikes.

Not to mention the thousands of obsolete wind turbines that are abandoned in place all over the West Coast.....


Online Bigun

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Re: It's time for wind power to stand or fall on its own
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2013, 09:18:36 AM »
There is a niche for wind power: at the point of use – the home or business owner. Small, unobtrusive, modern turbines can be designed into structures and supplement electricity use.

But this blueprint is a market based, competitive, consumer oriented, growth industry approach; not a top-down government-subsidized, "feel-good" boondoggle.

 :thumbsup:
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Online rangerrebew

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Re: It's time for wind power to stand or fall on its own
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2013, 10:44:32 AM »
I hear Martha's Vineyard would be a good place for wind turbines. :whistle:
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Offline Oceander

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Re: It's time for wind power to stand or fall on its own
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2013, 02:03:08 PM »
There is a niche for wind power: at the point of use – the home or business owner. Small, unobtrusive, modern turbines can be designed into structures and supplement electricity use.

But this blueprint is a market based, competitive, consumer oriented, growth industry approach; not a top-down government-subsidized, "feel-good" boondoggle.

Maybe so, maybe not.  There was a recent article posted here about the failings of various small wind turbines purchased by various local governments in the UK, most of which will not recoup their cost for 100 years or more, which is an absurdity considering that most have a useful life of no more than 15 years.

Offline Oceander

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Re: It's time for wind power to stand or fall on its own
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2013, 02:03:22 PM »
I hear Martha's Vineyard would be a good place for wind turbines. :whistle:

:bigsilly:


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