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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Atlanta area
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    Wind Turbine Maintenance

    Retiring worn-out wind turbines could cost billions that nobody has

    HARLINGEN - This is a story about death and resurrection, and as with all such stories, faith plays its part.

    Texas is by far the leading wind energy producer in the United States, generating more than 20,000 megawatts of electricity each year. That is about one-fourth of the nation's wind-energy production.

    We can expect the Texas winds to blow forever, but the colossal turbines which capture the breeze and transform it into electricity will not turn forever. Like all mechanical things devised by man, no matter how clever, they eventually wear out.

    But the question is, what will this mean to the landscape and future of the Rio Grande Valley and, in particular, the counties of Willacy and Cameron?

    And here, as we confront the end days of a wind turbine, our story begins.

    Deregulating the field

    When Texas deregulated its electricity market in 2002, it forced power companies, transmission providers and electricity sellers to separate. For the most part, this has worked well for the state and electricity customers, with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, known as ERCOT, ramrodding about 75 percent of the state's efficient power grid.

    Deregulation also was a major factor in the rise of wind farms in Texas, with national and even global companies drawn to the state by its Wild West power-generation atmosphere with no regulatory agency, no permitting and no wind laws.

    "It's like prospecting: You can basically go stake your claim and build your project," Sweetwater attorney Rod Wetsel, who co-wrote the book "Wind Law," told MIT Technology Review last fall.

    And then, of course, there are the federal subsidies which make wind energy financially possible.

    Wind energy production tripled thanks to the Obama administration's aggressive green energy agenda, going from 8,883 megawatts in 2005 to around 82,183 megawatts today, which is about 5.5 percent of the nation's total power generation.

    The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the total cost to taxpayers of the wind production tax credit between 2016 and 2020 will be $23.7 billion.

    Whether those subsidies will continue under the Trump administration remains to be seen.

    One big question is how much money is being set aside for the inevitable decommissioning costs associated with removing aging, unprofitable and just plain worn out wind turbines now whirling across the horizons of Cameron and Willacy counties.

    Wind turbine: The life and death

    The life span of a wind turbine, power companies say, is between 20 and 25 years. But in Europe, with a much longer history of wind power generation, the life of a turbine appears to be somewhat less.

    "We don't know with certainty the life spans of current turbines," said Lisa Linowes, executive director of WindAction Group, a nonprofit which studies landowner rights and the impact of the wind energy industry. Its funding, according to its website, comes from environmentalists, energy experts and public donations and not the fossil fuel industry.

    Linowes said most of the wind turbines operating within the United States have been put in place within the past 10 years. In Texas, most have become operational since 2005.

    "So we're coming in on 10 years of life and we're seeing blades need to be replaced, cells need to be replaced, so it's unlikely they're going to get 20 years out of these turbines," she said.

    Estimates put the tear-down cost of a single modern wind turbine, which can rise from 250 to 500 feet above the ground, at $200,000.

    With more than 50,000 wind turbines spinning in the United States, decommissioning costs are estimated at around $10 billion.

    In Texas, there are approximately 12,000 turbines operational in the state. Decommissioning these turbines could cost as much as $2.3 billion.

    Which means landowners and counties in Texas could be on the hook for tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars if officials determine non-functional wind turbines need to be removed.

    Or if that proves to be too costly, as seems likely, some areas of the state could become post-apocalyptic wastelands steepled with teetering and fallen wind turbines, locked in a rigor mortis of obsolescence.

    Read the rest:

    Billions to replace or decommission thousands of wind turbines

    The key here is that wind power is simply not profitable. The turbines were built almost exclusively because of giant federal subsidies — increased significantly during the Obama administration — that are expected to cost taxpayers almost $24 billion from 2016 to 2020.

    Those subsidies might disappear under the Trump administration, but even if they don’t, they aren’t there to remove turbines but to build them. The companies that built the turbines aren’t making enough to pay for their replacement.

    See the comments:
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    Change your vacuum pump oil now.

    Test. Testing, 1,2,3.

  2. Likes Fender60 liked this post
  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Billington Heights, NY
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    I can tell you from experience that here in WNY we have a boat load of wind turbines. Half the time you see them, they're not working. "under repair" There are frequent 'oversize load' truck carrying new blades, genheads, and the like almost weekly. The reason they last so long is that they're rarely generating power. It's the biggest joke around here. Giant piles of ugliness that dont do anything useful, or only do it for a short time.

    Then too, there's the tree hugger bird people who get all worried about migratory patterns.

    We even had one start on fire...

  4. Likes Fender60 liked this post
  5. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Very few people understand how the power grid works. We have a huge excess of generating capacity (as designed), and many power plants only run when needed.The local 500MW natural gas power plant in my town only runs for about 30-35% of the year. They make most of their money from having the ability to run, rather than actually running.

    The same thing goes for wind turbines. If the grid has an excess of power, they park the turbines because they're the easiest to shutdown of just about any kind of power generation. Even then, it's pretty dishonest to say "they never run". In April 2018, we generated over 27,000,000 megawatt/hours worth of wind energy. That's a full ~10% of the U.S.'s energy needs. That's a substantial amount of power no matter which way you try and spin it. Your local grid operator determines which plants (including wind turbines) need to run. In my case, ISO New England makes that decision. For New York, that would be the New York ISO. Eventually grid storage technologies will improve, and wind turbines will be able to run longer and store their power for later use.

    As far as dismantling and subsidies costs go; Big Freakin' Deal. 24 billion across 138 million tax payers across 4 years is less than $40/year per person. The U.S. government spends far more money than that every year on far more stupid things. Heck, I spend more than $40/year on far more stupid things.

  6. Likes mariner59 liked this post
  7. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Prattville, Alabama
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    Are you sure they don't "park them" because they're the least reliable, and liable to fluctuate at any given moment? That is my belief.

  8. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    So, I'm puzzled about what is the point the writer of the article is trying to make. Some information is correct, some is incorrect. The perception I get is that maintenance, wear out and repair has taken people by surprise and is an afterthought. The writer says the service life is 20 years. In the life cycle of any equipment there is recommended, required and corrective maintenance that needs to be done. It does not mean no maintenance is required for 20 years. Virtually any equipment such as this the owner has estimated and accounted for the cost to build, maintain, repair and retire before ever breaking ground.

    Yes there have been and are some subsidies for wind turbine construction but it in no means pays for the whole thing or everything in the life cycle. The cost is the utilitiy that owns them and the customers of that utility. The inferrence I get is somehow because there is a subsidy the federal government and all tax payers will get stuck with the bill to take them down and that was unexpected, wrong. It's the utilitiies responsability and their customers, no one else. Beside what makes you think they have to be taken down and not just parked permanently. The thought that there are no regulations putting up and operating a wind turbine is 100% wrong. Deregulation means the federal government and/or state utility boards that are in place to eversee this type of enterpise will no longer dictate how much the utility will charge the customers.

    The deregulation premise is the lowest cost suppliers will stay on line and the more expensive unit will be taken off line. In a deregulated environment, the market will drive that behavior and it does a pretty fair job at that but not always. It's kind of like having all your windows open and running the air conditioner when it's 90F outside. A waste of resources and cost you money. Wind turbines really have a very narrow range of wind speed they can operate in. This is partly why they are not economical to operate. This is the big thing that is misunderstood of the renewable electricity market, the wind is free, the sun is free, the earths heat is free. But the equipment is not, the equipment needs maintenance, equipment reliability is not overly high, the sun and wind are not present 24/7. Big improvements have been made for the storage of the power created from solar and wind. This will go a long way in improving the sustained viablity. But these storage batteries are huge, expensive and they too have maintenance requirements and regulations.

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