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Dutch fall out of love with windmills

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Posted by Home Guy on November 20, 2011, 2:56 pm
 
Dutch fall out of love with windmills

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/16/us-dutch-wind-idUSTRE7AF1JM20111116

When the Netherlands built its first sea-based wind turbines in 2006,
they were seen as symbols of a greener future.

Towering over the waves of the North Sea like an army of giants, blades
whipping through the wind, the turbines were the country's best hope to
curb carbon emissions and meet growing demand for electricity.

The 36 turbines -- each one the height of a 30-storey building --
produce enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 100,000
households each year.

But five years later the green future looks a long way off. Faced with
the need to cut its budget deficit, the Dutch government says offshore
wind power is too expensive and that it cannot afford to subsidize the
entire cost of 18 cents per kilowatt hour -- some 4.5 billion euros last
year.

The government now plans to transfer the financial burden to households
and industrial consumers in order to secure the funds for wind power and
try to attract private sector investment.

It will start billing consumers and companies in January 2013 and
simultaneously launch a system under which investors will be able to
apply to participate in renewable energy projects.

But the new billing system will reap only a third of what was previously
available to the industry in subsidies -- the government forecasts 1.5
billion euros every year -- while the pricing scale of the investment
plan makes it more likely that interested parties will choose less
expensive technologies than wind.

The outlook for Dutch wind projects seems bleak.

COUNTRY OF WINDMILLS

For centuries, the Netherlands has harnessed wind power, using windmills
to drain water from low-lying marsh and turn it into arable land.

Now however, one of the most densely populated countries in Europe --
with 489 people per square kilometer (0.6 miles) compared to 356 in
Belgium or 192 in Luxembourg -- is falling out of love with its iconic
technology.

Arguments over the high cost and maintenance of sea-based turbines, as
well as complaints from residents about unsightly land-based models,
have brought the Dutch to an impasse.

Offshore wind farms produce more electricity than onshore ones but it
costs twice as much as onshore wind power due to the higher cost of
materials, more expensive drilling methods, and more complex
maintenance.

Wind turbines in the sea need to be more robust to withstand strong
winds and salt water; their maintenance some miles away from the coast
requires special equipment and transportation.

Drilling the seabed is more expensive as it requires a specialized
workforce and equipment. Then there's the additional cost of connecting
the offshore farms to the grid.

Onshore, wind turbines face local resistance.

In 1994, a group of entrepreneurial farmers around the Dutch town of Urk
got together and decided to build the country's largest onshore wind
farm with 86 wind turbines nearby. Maxime Verhagen, then minister for
economy, innovation and agriculture, said this would be enough to supply
900,000 people.

The project has since been adapted to meet changes in legislation and 20
years after it was launched, construction may finally start this year
and be completed in 2014. The only thing holding up the project now is a
lawsuit filed by local residents. They say the 30-meter-high wind
turbines will spoil their views.

"If we have wind turbines here this old picture will be destroyed," said
the mayor, Jaap Kroon. "We are also concerned about the safety and
noise."

Ironically Urk itself used to be an island until windmills were used to
drain the surrounding land and connect it to the mainland. The Dutch
Wind Energy Association says about half the country's onshore wind
projects such as the one in Urk are disputed.

"People don't want big wind turbines in their backyards," said Kasper
Wallet, an energy consultant. "They think it will impact the value of
their property."

SHORT-TERM SAVINGS?

Renewable energy meets just four percent of the Netherlands' total
energy consumption. That makes the country's target for its share to
rise 14 percent by 2020 challenging enough.

"We have come to the conclusion that the most likely targets with the
current policy to be reached will be in the range of 8 to 12 percent,"
said Paul van den Oosterkamp, manager of the Energy Research Center of
the Netherlands (ECN), an independent institute for renewable energy.

Under the government's new system aimed at attracting private sector
involvement, known as SDE+, investors will be able to apply in four
phases to participate in renewable energy projects, with government
subsidies set between 9 and 15 cents per kilowatt hour of produced
electricity they produce.

A spokeswoman for the ministry of economic affairs, agriculture and
innovation said this would not cover the current subsidy cost of
offshore wind projects.

"Some technologies like offshore wind, tidal and wave energy and solar
are on average more expensive than the SDE+ maximum cost price," said
Esther Benschop in an email to Reuters.

Dutch power firms say wind remains key to meeting green energy targets
but is still too expensive for them to manage alone.

Dutch grid operator TenneT, which became a major player in German
electricity transmission after it bought E.ON's high-voltage grid, has
complained about the cost of connecting offshore wind farms to the
national grid because of the expensive materials, particularly cables,
involved.

It currently has nine projects in Germany involving wind farms where it
has run into financing difficulties and is seeking a stakeholder.

Nico Bolleman -- managing director of Netherlands-based Blue
Technologies, a company which develops platforms for offshore wind
turbines -- says fairer comparisons need to be made when calculating the
cost of wind power.

"Even if you take everything into account, wind energy is not expensive.
Take into account the hidden costs of fossil fuels. For example,
transport of coal generates more carbon dioxide emissions and no-one
calculates that into the electricity price."

Others insist the negative impact will be short-term.

"The new subsidy scheme is not supportive, (but) offshore wind is a
long-term game," said Greven Hein, spokesman for Dutch utilities firm
Eneco, recently given subsidies to build a 129 megawatt offshore wind
farm.

"In a couple of years it will be back on the agenda."

=================

When replying to this post, don't be a bone-head by quoting the entire
post.  Quote responsibly.

Posted by trader4@optonline.net on November 20, 2011, 3:12 pm
 

Good post.  The Netherlands are often cited by proponents of
offshore wind power as a great example of it's success.

Yet here we find:


" investors will be able to apply in four
phases to participate in renewable energy projects, with government
subsidies set between 9 and 15 cents per kilowatt hour of produced
electricity they produce.

A spokeswoman for the ministry of economic affairs, agriculture and
innovation said this would not cover the current subsidy cost of
offshore wind projects. "


So, you have the govt subsidizing the cost of wind energy to
the tune of 9 and 15 cents and even that is not enough to make it
viable.
In much of the US, that is the entire charge to the consumer
for electricity, including a profit to the utility.   So much for
offshore wind power.....



Posted by Andy on November 20, 2011, 3:28 pm
 Andy comments:

  We have a lot of wind power in Texas... It seems to be working
OK...but I
haven't looked into the gov subsidies....

   My feeling is that unless private investors have the confidence in
a project
to make it work, the government should keep their "idealogy" out of
it.....
Simply buying votes from environmentalists using taxpayer money seems
to me to be unethical...

    Eventually, alternate power will be the same price as fossil
fuels.  At that
time, there will be no argument.... It isn't a "technology
improvement" function
as much as it is an "fossil fuel price" problem..... The technology is
there
now, and the fossil fuel price is moving up....
   Some day, (after I'm dead), a sane approach will be considered...


                                 Andy in Eureka, Texas

Eureka, where people have electric fences in their front yards
       to keep the pigs out....

Posted by Tony Hwang on November 20, 2011, 3:46 pm
 

Home Guy wrote:

Not really the project is put into back burner due to current economic
condition. They are not giving it up. Look at Germany they were able to
shut down their nuke power plants.
Here in Calgary one house builder is set to start building NET ZERO
houses. Solar arrays, geo-thermal loop will produce energy needed for
the house. It will generate 8-10K Kwh electricity, Building cost won't
be much different. I'd rather have this kind of dwelling rather than
energy wasting big house. Energy audit business is booming out here
so people can take advantage of rebates from federal and provincial
government.

Posted by Bernt Berger on November 20, 2011, 3:53 pm
 On 11/20/2011 9:56 AM, Home Guy wrote:

And when we burn the last drop of oil on the planet, those windmills are
going to look very attractive.

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