Wind Power Expansion Reliant on Market Forces now so there probably won’t be Much More of It

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 17th, 2012

Week in Review

The wind power market is slowing down.  Not that there was ever a wind power market.  The only way wind power has grown has been with massive taxpayer subsidies.  But as economies wallow in stagnant economic growth those subsidies are starting to dry up.  And with it the expansion of wind power in nations across the world (see Wind Power Market to Slow on EU, U.S., China Hurdles, Lobby Says by Alex Morales posted 11/14/2012 on Bloomberg).

Wind farm growth is set to slow as limits on capacity in China’s grid, falling carbon prices in Europe and a lack of direction in U.S. government policy hamper demand in major markets, the Global Wind Energy Council said.

Turbine capacity of 586,729 megawatts will be installed by 2020, from 237,699 megawatts in 2011, the Brussels-based lobby said today in an e-mailed report co-authored by environmental campaigner Greenpeace. They see annual investment of 45 billion euros ($57 billion) in 2020, down from 50 billion euros in 2011. The figure is equivalent to annual capacity growth of less than 11 percent, down from 28 percent for the 15 years through 2011…

Chinese growth in the past few years has outstripped the ability of the country’s power grid to absorb new generating capacity. In the U.S., the industry has been hobbled by the government’s failure to extend a tax credit that expires at the end of this year, and in Europe carbon prices this year have reached all-time lows, reducing the incentive to cut emissions.

The report took as its central scenario a “new policies” pathway outlined by the Paris-based International Energy Agency. Using that scenario, Greenpeace and GWEC said installations in China, slowing because of constraints in the power grid, will climb more than 180 percent to 179,498 megawatts in 2020.

Wind capacity in the 27-nation European Union will rise 120 percent to 207,246 megawatts, and North America will gain 130 percent to 121,238 megawatts. African installations will surge fivefold to 5,372 megawatts, Latin America almost triple, and Indian installations double, according to the scenario.

Let’s look at some of these numbers.  And note the units.  Annual investment in wind power is falling to $57 billion a year.  For what?  To bring installed wind turbine capacity up to 586,729 megawatts worldwide.  That’s a lot of money for not a lot of power.  As a percentage of total installed capacity that comes to about 11% for North America, 25% for China and 27% of the EU.  Sounds like it will make a difference.  And it will.  But not in a good way.

The power wind power is replacing is basically coal-fired power plants.  Which are on all of the time.  Having capacity factors reaching and exceeding 90%.  Meaning that over a given period of time 90% or more of that installed capacity will be on line producing useable electric power.  Why?  Because coal will burn all of the time.  Something wind can’t do.  Blow all of the time.  And when it blows it doesn’t always blow at the right wind speed.  Which is why the capacity factor for wind power is much lower.  About 25%.  So if you convert the wind power to equivalent coal power the installed wind turbine capacities fall.  From 121,238 megawatts in North America to about 30.3 megawatts (or about 2.7% of the total installed capacity).  From 179,498 megawatts in China to about 44.8 megawatts (or about 6.2% of total installed capacity).  And from 207,246 megawatts to about 51.8 megawatts in the EU (or about 6.8% of the total installed capacity).  Which is a lot less power for the investment.

This is why wind power is not economically viable.  And can only exist with taxpayer subsidies.  And adding a tax to the more reliable and more plentiful power sources.  Such as coal.  As in carbon prices coal-fired power plants have to pay.  A cost that they add to our electric bills.  And why are carbon prices falling in Europe?  Because the economy is so poor that there is a low demand for electric power.  In part due to the EU’s green policies that hinder economic growth.  By raising the cost of doing business.

So what will green energy do for us?  It will raise the cost of our electric power.  And make that electric power less reliable.  Making rolling blackouts a common occurrence.  Even though we’re paying more for electric power.  That is what green energy will do for us.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , ,