Offshore wind power projects pave the way to frequent blackouts
Thousands of bureaucrats are preparing for another cushy climate confab in Cancun — while U.S. Senators Bignaman, Brownback and Reid are contemplating how to ram renewable energy standards through a lame-duck session of Congress. If they’re wise, American voters and congressmen will pay extra careful attention to the awful dilemma of German climate and energy policy, as exemplified by recent events and make sure their country doesn’t make the same “green” mistakes Germany did.
Barely two months after the inauguration ceremony for Germany’s first pilot offshore wind farm, “Alpha Ventus” in the North Sea, all six of the newly installed wind turbines were completely idle due to gearbox damage. Two turbines must be replaced entirely, the other four repaired.
Friends of the project, especially Germany’s environment minister, Norbert Roettgen, talked of “teething problems.” The problem is far more serious than that, for wind turbines in the high seas are extremely expensive for power consumers, even when they run smoothly. When they don’t the problem intensifies. Germany could face blackouts — a new dark age.
The Alpha Ventus failures created intense pressure for Areva Multibrid, a subsidiary of the semi-public French nuclear power company Areva. Every “standstill day,” with the expensive turbines standing idle and not generating a single kilowatt hour of electricity causes lost revenue. Environmental economist and meteorologist Thomas Heinzow of the University of Hamburg estimated the operator’s revenue shortfall at almost $6,500 (5,000 euro) per turbine per standstill day. Giving greater pause to Areva was the certainly not unreasonable fear that the already skittish investors could get cold feet and wander off in search of less risky ventures.