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« Unbelievably hot, not - Josh 177 | Main | Political bias in the academy »
Thursday
Aug092012

Wind payback period "several millennia"

ConsumerReport.org is reporting that home wind turbines are a rip-off:

The Honeywell costs $11,000 installed, comes with a five-year warranty and has a 20-year expected product life. But having a thorough site analysis by a manufacturer-authorized installer, backed by your own research on websites such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is vital.

At the rate the WT6500 is delivering power at our test site, it would take several millennia for the product to pay for itself in savings—not the 56 years it would take even with the 1,155 kWh quote we received.

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Reader Comments (44)

Somebody tell Dave.

Aug 9, 2012 at 11:34 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson
His father in law knows all about wind turbines, so no point in telling Dave or his Lib-Dem mates. Osbourne might be a different kettle of fish though.

Aug 9, 2012 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

This'll certainly put the wind up the Camerons.........

Aug 9, 2012 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterspartacusisfree

But it was Dave that had the bright idea of putting one on his house.
Anyway, I don't believe his father-in-law has a clue about windmills.


Money, now; that's a different matter altogether.

Aug 9, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Obviously more subsidy is needed.

Aug 9, 2012 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda Klapp

The last place anyone with any sense would put a wind turbine is at home, That says it all really.

Aug 9, 2012 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Re: Aug 9, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Mike Jackson

"But it was Dave that had the bright idea of putting one on his house."


And I wonder how much his poorly-sited wind turbine cost him....

It certainly proved very expensive for Kirklees Council

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9272259/Council-spent-100000-on-turbines-that-dont-work-because-of-too-little-wind.html

'too little wind' ?

http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/local-west-yorkshire-news/2011/02/09/kirklees-council-civic-centre-turbine-still-broken-86081-28138298/

And the link was quiety removed from the 'sustainablegov' site that had been hyping its success ....

http://www.sustainablegov.co.uk/local-government/energy-and-climate-change-local-government/civic-centre-3-case-study-energy-from-the-sun-and-the-wind

Aug 9, 2012 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Interesting stuff mind love how the first comment on the story is from the usual windy-miller type saying the report is all wrong/skewed data/corrupt blah blah and how he can prove it if you use his link to his sales pitch for windy products !!

Aug 9, 2012 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered Commentermat

I see the 1155kWh rating depends on its location 164 feet off the ground. I expect that's in the small print somewhere...

Aug 9, 2012 at 12:52 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Categoric proof that these things WILL reduce CO2 emissions.

They are so blooming expensive that people will have no money left to buy anything else

Aug 9, 2012 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

This morning the great wind farm scam produced 0.0% energy for the UK grid. At 12:00 GMT it had improved to 0.2% or 85MW. Are they totally nuts?

Aug 9, 2012 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterNiels

Post-normal economics!

Aug 9, 2012 at 1:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

http://www.bmreports.com/bsp/bsp_home.htm

For wind and other power gen info.

Aug 9, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

It's all wind, wind and wind. That's why they are called 'wind' turbines.

Aug 9, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I know small windmills (please, these things are not turbines) are quite poor, but an energy output of 4 kWh in 15 months is risable. There must be a fault somewhere? But the man from Honeywell has visited, and there's no fault.

Aug 9, 2012 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterCapell

"In the 15 months since the turbine was installed, though, it has delivered less than 4 kWh"

haha

Aug 9, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Ssshh - don't tell the people applying for this wind job in Edinburgh

http://www.reed.co.uk/jobs/assistant-project-manager-wind-farm-eia-edinburgh/21864526?WT.mc_id=elreg

Actually, we could do it with our eyes closed!

Paypack period calculated on Full Nominal Capacity KW (achieved at all times), with continual high winds 24x7, all costs net of VAT

Aug 9, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

it would take several millennia for the product to pay


That quick huh?

Aug 9, 2012 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

If consumers can, nominally, choose their electricity suppliers, why not make a law that allows them to choose their technology? Those who believe in wind power can then choose to live by wind power and, if they are honest with themselves, quickly realise just how badly they have been misled.

And how often does a manufacturer's product match it's life expectancy if they haven't yet been made and sold for several product “life-time's”?

Aug 9, 2012 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Michael Hart,

I totally agree and would even give them their wind generated electricity for free. The only caveat being they can only share out what the wind is producing.

Aug 9, 2012 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

It is the EU's (and thus Cameron's/Clegg's/Milliband's) declared aim to get people using less energy (and less water). I should say these wind-mills are thus a massive success. Further, I suggest that we define a unit of success (after all, until you can measure something, it is hard to be sure) as the eOAPd.

This is the enhanced number of pensioner deaths attributable to the increased price of energy due to climate change measures. Champagne (and sham pain, of course) all round!

Aug 9, 2012 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

michael hart says- "If consumers can, nominally, choose their electricity suppliers, why not make a law that allows them to choose their technology?"

Actually, if the power utility installed smart meters with remote disconnect ability, then it is a simple software app to make this a reality. The customer that chooses wind power, for example, would have their service toggled on and off in synchrony with the energy production of the wind farm chosen. Likewise, the billing rate would also be directly tied to the price paid for the wind farm energy produced, including all tax credits, execrable carbon credit graft and other hidden subsidies.

The impact of this energy transparency on public support for industrial wind power would be stunning.

Aug 9, 2012 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

http://toryaardvark.com/2011/12/14/britain-3421-wind-turbines-installed-1500-accidents-in-5-years/

Aug 9, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NAAzBArYdw&feature=related

Not just accidents to humans .Warning if you dont like to see cruelty to any animals then please dont watch.

Aug 9, 2012 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

The killer(s) is the '5 year warranty' and an 'expected lifespan of 20 years'! i.e. if it fails after the warranty period OR fails to produce enough electricity within 20 years then you're LOSING MONEY no matter what happens!
And there are people that fall for this? Where are they? I've got a nice spanking new 'bridge' in my yard they could use.

Aug 9, 2012 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

Is anyone else amused by the TV ads about EDF supplying the olympics with low-carbon electricity?
Greens think "ooh, lovely wind!", while I think "ooh, lovely NUKES!"

They do their best, I just wish they weren't compelled to waste some of their (our) money on politicians' wind.

Aug 9, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered Commentermalcolm

It must be a well built machine to last that long.

Aug 9, 2012 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

Quote ["And I wonder how much his poorly-sited wind turbine cost him....

It certainly proved very expensive for Kirklees Council ...."]

Slight correction - It proved costly for we Kirklees Council TAXPAYERS actually.

Still -I get your point

Aug 9, 2012 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterRiggers386

Re: Aug 9, 2012 at 8:40 PM | Riggers386

Quite right, Riggers, thanks for the correction ;-)

Aug 9, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Uh oh - Steven Chou's secret energy plan was based on these windmills - with a little bit of painting roofs white. How ungenerous to expose the plan as fraudulent.

Aug 9, 2012 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

On the bizarre economics of wind: In Ireland, the price of electricity is due to go up, by about a fiver a month (not much really) because apparently wind has driven the market price of electricity down, and so the windies need more subsidies, as they are guaranteed a certain rate (euros per MWh). You couldn't make it up.

http://www.cer.ie/GetAttachment.aspx?id=4abe0227-335b-481a-b807-039d0bb7d442

Aug 9, 2012 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan

Mike Jackson wrote:

It certainly proved very expensive for Kirklees Council

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9272259/Council-spent-100000-on-turbines-that-dont-work-because-of-too-little-wind.html

Kirklees is not the only place where the council has wasted its citizen's money on wind turbines. The same is true of Exeter.

Exeter City Council will probably never recoup £5,000 spent on Civic Centre turbines
http://www.thisisexeter.co.uk/City-council-probably-recoup-pound-5-000-spent/story-12806732-detail/story.html

Aug 9, 2012 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I did a screen grab of the NETA site to show that the UK wind output really was zero yesterday (well there were a few MW but it shows as zero when you round to one decimal place of percentage)

Aug 10, 2012 at 1:42 AM | Registered CommenterAndy Scrase

On again off again wind power ... you could save the planet for a fraction of the price.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/03/07/wind_power_how_much/

Aug 10, 2012 at 3:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cooper

This morning we are starting the third consecutive day when, despite massive investment and subsidy, our 3,500 plus wind turbines are contributing essentially nothing to the UK’s energy demand (now 43 MW to a 35,840 MW demand, i.e. 0.1%). There are numerous objections to wind power but I believe its unreliability is the most serious. Within a few years, we will be obliged (a) to phase out many of our older coal and nuclear power stations and (b) to achieve a target of 32% of our energy from renewables – mainly wind turbines. Were this possible (it probably isn’t – although no alternative is planned), it would mean putting the nation at serious risk of Grid failure whenever, as now, wind speeds are light.

The consequences of Grid failure would be intolerable and tragic. That’s why support for wind energy is impractical, sanctimonious piety.

Aug 10, 2012 at 8:27 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin, I think your comment sums up the situation perfectly. Sooner or later, there'll have to be a reversal in policy - and the longer it takes, the more it'll cost, eventually.

The thing is, this whole AGW/ wind turbine question has gathered a momentum it will be hard to stop - because there's money in it: Billions of pounds of profit - money for nothing, available to any landowner who allows the blasted things to be sited on previously unused (and more often than not, unspoilt) countryside. That's what it's REALLY about, after all.

Lets just hope that some politician who has the guts and honesty (now there's a novelty) and is in a position to exert influence, speaks out, otherwise the lights'll be going out for all of us, before long.

Aug 10, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterRiggers386

Mike Jackson wrote:
It certainly proved very expensive for Kirklees Council
I never did nae sich thing, Roy. It wisnae me, it wis Marion, honest!!

Aug 10, 2012 at 9:48 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I hate to go on about it, but the present (11.15 am) contribution of the whole UK wind industry to the national grid is 16MW. That is enough power to boil just 5,333 3KW electric kettles. Now just why did sailing ships give way to steam in the nineteenth century?

Aug 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

Mike Post: it’s a pity more people don’t “go on about it”. The UK faces a most serious situation: by 2016/2017 about 20% of our power is supposed to come from renewables (see Ministerial Statement here). In practice, that means wind turbines. Yet, as we see now, there can be several days when, whether we have 3,500 or 35,000 turbines, they will produce negligible power. The failure of 20% of our potential energy supply would mean power outages. Power outages mean no water, no trains, no phone systems, no computers, no ATM machines, no traffic controls, no petrol stations, no factories, no airports, no air conditioning, no central heating, no street lights, no refrigeration, no sewerage … Had, for example, the UK’s energy supply depended substantially on the wind last February, thousands in the UK would have died of frostbite and our already ruined economy would have suffered yet another severe blow. Few people appreciate, for example, the fragility of a modern city: in periods of extreme heat or cold, it’s electricity that prevents disaster. And, throughout the UK (onshore and offshore), the wind typically doesn’t blow in periods of extreme heat or cold. See this.

Yet hardly anyone – in Government or elsewhere – seems at all concerned. So please keep going on about it.

Aug 10, 2012 at 3:01 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin Guenier: You are absolutely correct.

Why is it that even intelligent publications like the FT don't seem to get it? They published a letter of mine about rent-seeking wind turbine owners a couple of years ago but seem completely oblivious to the catastrophic consequences of grid failure in such an inter-connected, electricity-dependent society such as ours.

May I encourage all BH readers to write to the heavy press with our concerns.

Aug 10, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

I find the academic discussion here typical of people who have no experience of living remotely without grid connected power as my wife and I do.
We live with 1kw of solar panels and 1 kW of wind generation. When looking for a wind generator I looked closely at many different types and their output, many have low wind speed start up speeds but all generate meaningful amounts at approximately the same speed, also the hight is important, our generator is at 45 ft and would be considered low by most installers, the roof hight is critical. However it must always be remembered that there is only so much energy in the wind at a given speed and no generator can do the impossible as some manufacturers seem to imply, extract more energy than is potentially there.
The rational for having both solar and wind is that when the sun is not shining it is blowing, this works well at most times.
Should add that we live in this way because we are remote form the grid, I think all subsidies should be removed from grid connected systems and only the same paid as the grid connected cost of electricity. Why should only people who are rich enough to install systems be subsidised by others.

Aug 11, 2012 at 12:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterClive

Clive,
Do you also have a genset? Batteries? an inverter? I'f be interested in more details of your setup?

I'd love to know your kw-hrs/year if that's something you can recover

john

Aug 11, 2012 at 12:28 AM | Registered Commenterjferguson

Just to clarify, if you live off grid, it could be more economical to use solar/wind just because the expense to haul in your own fuel for your own generator could get expensive....But I still say if you live off-grid its your duty to pay for it yourself without subsidies. Otherwise, live without power or move to somewhere which is connected to the grid.

But I think that is Clive's point. Wind CAN deliver fairly reliable power by itself, the problem is that you have to buy the turbines and the batteries (or some back-up system). Solar can help a little, but remember that panels are limited to day-time, so even with both you still need back-up. That is expensive!!

They used to set-up systems like that in the US for instance before the national grid was everywhere until the 1940's when they became obsolete with the coming of the national grid nationwide. Those systems had large banks of batteries to maintain full power and they did last something close to 30 years back then as well. We have not really come any farther with wind power. The last advancement was done in 1976 where the dynamics and the design of all modern wind turbines was done by NASA.

And that was rather lack-luster as has been all other advances. The over-whelming issue is that fossil fuels are so much more effiicient and cheaper at power generation that there are very few places that wind power makes any sense. And the fact that they can run without batteries is another factor....So in the end I would tend to think that all subsidies spent on any wind connected to the grid has been one huge waste. The technology is mature and has been.

Aug 11, 2012 at 5:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBenfrommo

Sssshhhhh..... Don't tell Alex Salmond....

Aug 11, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

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