Peter Jones - March 20, 2012

Renewables: wind power

It is time for some encouraging information about renewables. Follow this link and read about the construction and operation of the Alpha Ventus offshore wind farm located in the open North Sea, well away from Germany’s coastal waters. Off-shore wind power solves many current issues that create delays and occasionally rejection of wind power installations on land.  Yet they are more difficult to build, and difficult to service.

The Alpha Ventus “experiment” confirms that wind energy is expensive, the technical challenges are formidable, Germany still lacks a so-called smart grid that  would make it easier to integrate renewables into the electricity network, and, most of all, storage capacity to offset periods of low wind activity.   To date, wind power has yet to be delivered at a profit, and no one is saying when that will happen.

There are 12 wind turbines in the Alpha Ventus farm, each with an output of five megawatts.  The “success” of this construction is one reason why the present German Government committed to discontinue nuclear power plants by 2020. To achieve this goal, the German government plans to support the installation of another 10,000 megawatts offshore by 2020 and 25,000 megawatts by 2030. This output will require a further 5,000 of these wind turbines or 400 wind farms the size of Alpha Ventus.

Germany has paid considerably more than was expected to convert to wind power.  But the goal is in sight, and our bet is that the German experience will be a big factor in satisfying other countries about the feasibility of wind power.

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