The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCO) is proposing a trial project named Icebreaker, which entails placing 6 Siemens 3.0 MW direct drive wind turbines offshore of Cleveland, OH, in Lake Erie. Please refer to this Cleveland Plain Dealer article on the subject, and also this WKSU report.
An analysis of the proposal is attached here ( Icebreaker Turbine Analysis ) , and indicates some very unflattering realities about the proposal:
- Total annual energy output from the 6 Siemens wind turbines can be expect to be approximately 64,168 MWh, assuming 90% uptime.
- Payback of the initial investment of $127,000,000 (as reported by WKSU) will never happen. Over $57,000,000 will remain unpaid after 25 years.
- Spending the same money on closed cycle gas turbine (CCGT) generation would provide 13 times more electricity and, at the same time, eliminate more than 6 times more CO2 emissions.
- These economic analyses do not account for the cost that will be incurred to maintain and operate a traditional back-up system for generating power when the wind is not blowing adequately, and for the added cost and inefficiency of cycling this back-up system on and off to balance the supply load against the variability of the wind generated power.
- These analyses are presented for a 25 year period, although it is becoming evident that the useful life of many wind turbines is less than 20 years, and sometimes as little as 10 to 15 years. Siemens estimates the life of the SW-3.0-101 to be 20 years.
- Any supposed reductions in dependency on conventional power generation and any reductions in associated levels of pollution, attributed to use of wind power generation, are highly suspect; because of the need to maintain and operate the back-up systems in an inefficient manner.
- The lowest wind conditions and the lowest power output will occur in the summer, when the electricity demand is highest.
- Despite their supposed presentation as power sources for average everyday power needs, wind turbine projects are often granted special Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs) which allow prices for their electricity that are many times higher than average wholesale price. It is disconcerting that a large portion of the feasibility studies and the on-going discussion are often devoted to proposals to make the projects appear viable with public spending and it is evident that, to make these projects work, massive government subsidies and large increases in the cost paid for electricity will be required to offset the investment losses and attract investors.
Once again, other than the damage to the economy of the waste itself, the real problem with mandating and subsidizing non-viable energy technology projects is that this distracts us and diverts resources from other efforts to improve our energy production strategy. Unfortunately, some of the arguments used to justify the mandates and subsidies are more political and emotional than logical.
There is no doubt that we in the USA need to alter our energy strategy. The question of how we will change it, however, needs to be determined by scientific evaluation of fact and logical analysis of performance and economics; not by emotion, political considerations, and “feel good” methodologies.
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