Americans can take great comfort in the fact that factories in China will require much less energy cost than American factories, because the Chinese factories will use fossil fuel. Consider it a vacation if you’re unemployed. As American energy expert and Messiah Obama explained last week, China’s infrastucture is VASTLY superior to ours. China has no such energy experts (now that is an infrastructure feature we should seek to emulate)!
There is a Green Revolution off Germany’s coast; all that’s required is a price floor, DOUBLING THE PRICE OF ENERGY! Soon, even Ted Kennedy will roll over for off-shore wind farms; when he hears the energy costs twice as much. There are no dead bats, there are no dead birds (unless you check); and they don’t build them in China. Or Indonesia. Or Malaysia. Or India. Or anywhere else with INFRASTRUCTURE (by definition).
But maybe Germany lacks vast tracts of unused land targeted by T. Boone Pickens for unlimited energy production. Let me guess that T. Boone Pickens does not propose to fund the transmission system (no, it’s not really a guess). Picken’s wind farms will require the same guaranteed price floor as the Green Revolution off Germany. Except Pickens will still get paid, when the wind doesn’t blow (safe bet).
(benchmark: 15 cents per kilowatt hour – check your bill. I’ll be happy to provide you power at that cost; but it will be nuclear, which has an infinitesimal environmental impact, in comparison).
. . . What has sparked this boom is Germany’s Renewable Energy Law (EEG) — or more precisely, the changes Germany’s parliament’s made to it in early June. The EEG sets fixed rates which have to be paid for renewable energy. Until now, the rate was 9 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity coming from offshore wind parks. The change means that operators can now bank on 15 cents per kilowatt hour. “That has an impact,” Ulf Gerder of the German WindEnergy Association says.
The first electricity from the flagship project Alpha Ventus is supposed to hit the grid in October. The 12 wind turbines are supplied by manufacturers Repower and Multibrid, and they will be erected in a lattice-like formation at a distance of 800 meters (a half mile) apart, meaning the wind farm will stretch over an area of four square kilometres (1.5 square miles) — the size of 550 football fields.
The advantages of such an offshore wind farm are clear. The ones currently being planned in Germany won’t be visible from land, so people are unlikely to complain about them. And, because of the strength and consistency of sea winds, wind turbines located off the coast generate more power.
On the other hand, the challenges are greater as well. The water at the site of the proposed Alpha Ventus wind turbines in the North Sea is 30 to 40 meters deep — and the turbines have to be anchored in the seabed with steel posts. Spokesman Wiese talks about a “world premiere”, as the existing offshore wind farms off Scotland and Denmark stand in much shallower water.
Such difficulties also up the price tag. Alpha Ventus is to cost €180 million ($282 million) to build — nearly three times as much as a similar installation on land. The government is channelling €50 million ($78.7 million) into research. E.ON is footing the €40 million ($62.9 million) bill for the connection to the grid.
Such sums mean that offshore wind parks are likely to remain the province of established energy giants. To reach the government’s targets, €20 billion to €30 billion will have to be spent on wind turbine construction in the North and Baltic Seas. Smaller wind farms funded by local investment groups — a major part of the land-based windmill boom — won’t have a chance.
Maintenance promises to be expensive as well. Indeed, keeping offshore wind parks up and running makes up some 20 to 30 percent of total costs, according to industry estimates. Plus, the turbines have to be built to withstand gusts of 160 kilometers per hour and 15 meter high waves. On top of that there is the salty air — the Danish manufacturer Vestas, for example, has found corrosion to be a major problem on its offshore turbines.
article continues here . . .