Monday, November 19, 2018

Blown by the Wind

What the world needs now is… renewable energy. So goes the leftist mantra. One suspects that good leftists are merely idolators, worshipping at the altar of the Nature Goddess. One also suspects that said leftists want to repeal the Industrial Revolution and to bring down advanced industrial capitalism.

One way to achieve that goal is to introduce economic inefficiencies… thus, to waste money on boondoggles. Especially on energy boondoggles. And to rationalize it on the grounds that it's more virtuous.

Consider this information, reported in a Wall Street Journal editorial this morning. It comes to us from now-blue Virginia, where the Democrat governor has promoted a plan to allow the state’s largest utility to produce wind turbines off the state’s coast. These two massive turbines will produce enough power to light 3,000 homes. Does anyone believe that the greatest users of electricity are private homes?

Anyway, the Journal reports:

Dominion Energy ,Virginia’s biggest utility, plans to spend $300 million to build the two turbines 27 miles off the coast. Together they will produce 12 megawatts of power, enough for 3,000 homes. This first pair of turbines is a “demonstration project” to let Dominion gather data and experience. Then, as soon as 2024, it could begin dotting the adjacent waters with hundreds more, enough to generate 2,000 megawatts and light 500,000 homes.

The fun fact here is very simple. It’s so easy to understand that even I understand it. It’s the cost. How much does it cost for the turbines to produce energy. And how does that cost compare to the cost of producing energy otherwise.

The two turbines will generate electricity at 78 cents a kilowatt-hour—compared with 9.4 cents for new onshore wind, 5.6 cents for new solar, and around three cents for energy bought on the open market.

One suspects that energy bought on the open market is produced either by coal or by nuclear. Still, the turbine-produced energy will cost 16 time what it costs to buy energy on the open market. Note that onshore wind costs more than 3 times what it costs to buy energy in the open market.

It’s an astonishing waste of resources. If you wanted to undermine economic efficiency you could not do better than offshore wind turbines.


Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

You know there's an eek!ological scam going on when the output of a proposed power source is reported in terms of "homes lighted". According to the EIA (2/2018), lighting consumes 9% of household electricity use. The output of these turbines is 0.7% of the Surrey Nuclear Power Plant. Nuclear-generated electricity prices out at $0.021/kWhr, or 2.7% of the turbine price.

And all this time, I thought Ol' Dominion eek!ovoters eschewed offshore oil platforms because "They worry that the structures that could line the horizon would be unsightly, making the Oceanfront less attractive." (WAVY, VA Beach, 4/17) Hm.

Sam L. said...

How much will it COST to put those windmills TWENTY-SEVEN MILES OUT TO SEA, and the 54(?)+ miles of electrical cable just to get it to shore line? How far apart will they be?

Can you say "Boondoggle", boys and girls?

David Foster said...

"they will produce 12 megawatts of power, enough for 3,000 homes. This first pair of turbines is a “demonstration project” to let Dominion gather data and experience. Then, as soon as 2024, it could begin dotting the adjacent waters with hundreds more, enough to generate 2,000 megawatts and light 500,000 homes."

12 megawatts divided by 3000 homes is 4000 watts per home, or 4KW. That sounds about right for a typical home, including all electricity use as well as lighting. Some ratio for 2000MW and 500,000 homes.

The problem is that these output numbers are Nameplate capacity; ie, what the turbine can produce when wind is in its optimum range. The number is zero when the wind is too low or too high.

And when the wind is not blowing over a wide are, then "electricity bought on the open market" is going to cost a LOT more than the 3 cents per kwh that was pricing for electricity is VERY supply-and-demand dependent.

It seems to be impossible for most journalists (even business journalists) to understand that a KW generated at one point in time is not equivalent to a KW generated at another point in time.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

Sam, cost is not an issue. DE is a regulated utility...

"As a regulated monopoly guaranteed a return on investment, Dominion's business model relies on getting approval to spend on new projects..."
--- AP (2/2018)

Ratepayers will pay. Profits will increase. No boondoggle; good business.

Anonymous said...

Despite the rhetorical attractiveness of "renewable energy", no one in their right mind would risk their capital on such a venture as this.

The government, however, through illegitimate totality of power, exempts itself from risk, and acts in many cases according to transitory fancy, the very thing our government was designed to avoid.

Some people are probably congratulating themselves over this. They shouldn't even have responsible jobs.

Sam L. said...

It's a booger for the ratepayers, though.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

Well, Sam, it's for your own good.

There's more...

"For a little while earlier this year, it seemed as though 87-year-old Rosie Thomas and her neighbors in the small town of Gainesville, Va., had beaten Amazon. Virginia’s largest utility, Dominion Energy Inc., had planned to run an aboveground power line straight through a Civil War battlefield—and Thomas’s property—to reach a nearby data center run by an Inc. subsidiary. After three years of petitions and protests [...] Dominion agreed to bury that part of the line along a nearby highway, at an estimated cost of $172 million.

Within a month, however, the utility and state legislators had passed on the cost to Thomas and her fellow Virginians."
--- Bloomberg (8/20/18)

ICYDK, the VA House of Delegates is Republican.

For the record: "Utilities have more female chief executives than any other sector in the S&P 500 [...] Nearly 20% of the utilities in the S&P 500 are run by women." (WSJ, 10/23/18)

Sam L. said...

I don't live in Viryinia, as our local Scandinavians pronounce it, so it doesn't affect me. Bummer for them what do, though.