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Msg  7397 of 7455  at  2/2/2023 5:49:34 AM  by


Murphy's Law of Alternative Energy; Who could have guessed it would be so hard to rep

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Murphy's Law of Alternative Energy; Who could have guessed it would be so hard to replace cheap reliable power?

 Freeman, James.  Wall Street Journal (Online); New York, N.Y.

One might think that these would be boom times in the wind power business, with governments and giant corporations around the world competing to offer ever more generous preferences and subsidies for the intermittent energy source. But somehow this primitive means of generating power is still just not quite ready to replace the modern ones.

Part of the challenge is that politicians are finally waking up to the fact that alternative energy carries environmental costs along with the alleged benefits. In December this column noted Jennifer Dlouhy's Boomberg report uncovering an internal warning from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist to Interior Department officials about the threat to whales posed by offshore wind development.

Now Amanda Oglesby and Dan Radel report : for the Asbury Park Press:

A group of New Jersey mayors are calling for an "immediate moratorium" on offshore wind energy development until federal and state scientists can assure the public that ocean noise related to underwater seabed mapping, soil borings and other turbine construction activities poses no threat to whales.

The announcement followed news that another humpback whale died off of the coasts of New Jersey and New York and washed ashore in Lido Beach, New York, according to numerous reports. . . .

The Lido Beach whale marks the eighth whale to wash ashore on the beaches of New York and New Jersey in the past two months, the mayors said.

So far there doesn't appear to be any evidence linking offshore wind development to the specific whale deaths. But it's reasonable to demand a long overdue investigation of the true economic and environmental costs and benefits of an industry that taxpayers have been assisting for years.

Despite all the help in this country and around the world, the economics of the business remain challenging. Camilla Hodgson reports for the Financial Times:

The European wind industry has warned of continued difficulties in 2023 as high materials costs and slow approvals for new wind power projects drag back profitability, despite rising demand for renewable energy.

The latest poor outlook came from Danish wind turbine maker Vestas, which told investors on Friday that it would suffer a weaker year as the slow EU planning system and supply chain inflation depressed profits. . . .

The leading European offshore wind manufacturers "are under enormous pressure on the cost side and on the price side", said Alessandro Boschi, head of the European Investment Bank's renewable energy division, adding that he expected to see "further consolidation" in the sector.

Things are tough all over for windmill enthusiasts. Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Christoph Steitz recently reported for Reuters :

Denmark's Orsted . . . the world's No. 1 offshore wind farm developer... announced a writedown on a large U.S. offshore wind project and an earnings forecast for 2023 that fell short of analyst estimates.

Madrid-listed Siemens Gamesa . . . the world's biggest offshore wind turbine maker, reported a 472 million euro ($510 million) hit to operating profit due to faulty turbine components that require higher warranty and maintenance provisions.

Here in the U.S., Reuters colleagues Rajesh Kumar Singh and Abhijith Ganapavaram reported last week from Chicago:

General Electric . . . on Tuesday exceeded expectations for quarterly earnings on robust demand for jet engines and power equipment, but gave a disappointing full-year outlook as problems persisted at its renewable energy business. . . . The unit reported a loss of $2.2 billion in 2022.

GE is reducing global headcount at the onshore wind unit by about 20% as part of a plan to restructure and resize the business.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts, Colin Young of the State House News Service reported recently in the Berkshire Eagle:

The developer behind the largest single offshore wind farm in the state's pipeline . . . filed a formal notice of appeal to contest the Department of Public Utilities' approval of contracts that the developer agreed to but says will no longer allow its project to be financed or built.

Why do bad things keep happening to this industry?

It's almost as if wind energy companies are using a less advanced technology than competing power projects.


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