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Wind Power Suffers More Setbacks

By Jack Dini | Principia Scientific | October 4, 2021

The Wall Street Journal reports that wind turbine makers are facing a quadrupling of transportation costs and increases in steel, copper, aluminum and carbon fiber prices, making wind turbines ever more expensive.

Top wind turbine makers are struggling with lower earnings as rising raw material costs, problems shipping the hulking machines, and uncertainty over the future of US subsidies pressure their businesses.

In sharp contrast to claims by the renewables lobby, the costs of wind energy is not falling, empirical data shows. Despite industry claims, the building of wind farms in deeper water is costing more rather than less. (2)

Added to this, a number of locations across the US have had problems with existing wind farms.

South Dakota

A South Dakota manufacturer of wind turbine blades plant, Molded Fiber Glass (MFG) shut its doors permanently in August, sending shock waves through the local community. More than 300 workers lost their jobs, forcing locals to take a hard look at green energy proponents’ promises to provide good paying jobs for American workers. (3)

South Dakota’s prospects for becoming a bigger player in the energy sector have suffered another setback in recent months. In addition to the MFG plant closure, the Biden administration’s decision to kill the Keystone XL pipeline means South Dakota and many other states will not benefit from having the now-canceled infrastructure project transport 800,000 barrels of oil a day through their states.

Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

A maker of components for wind turbine blades is closing its manufacturing plant in the Lehigh Valley. The work done in the Lehigh Valley plant will be transferred to a plant the company opened two years ago in Matamoros, a city in northeastern Mexico. A memo to the employees said;

“During the past year, we have experienced challenging market conditions as the near-term market in North America has been influenced by consolidation, leading to a reduction of the blade manufacturing footprint in North America as well as reduced production at the continuing locations.” (4)

Little Rock, Arkansas

GE owned LM Wind Power closed its turbine blade plant in Little Rock, Arkansas in April 2020 in a move affecting about 460 workers. The closure of the plant was due to commercial factors, not the coronavirus pandemic. This closure is a reversal for the plant, which was the subject of an expansion program as recently as 2017. (5)

Rhode Island

Block Island wind farm off the state of Rhode Island was the first commercial offshore wind farm in the United States, located 3.8 miles from Block Island in the Atlantic Ocean. Recently, four of the five Block Island’s wind turbines stopped running this summer. Islanders say the turbine blades stopped turning several weeks ago, even on windy days. David Collins suggests that there is more trouble with the turbines than anyone wants folks to know. (6)

Missouri

Ratepayers should not be on the hook to pay a return for an asset that can’t fully operate. Every night for months, turbines at Missouri’s largest wind farm sit idle to avoid killing endangered and threatened bats. And now, as the wind farm’s owner, Ameren Missouri, seeks permission to increase customers’ rates, consumer advocates are sounding the alarm. They argue customers shouldn’t have to pay the full cost of the wind farm on their bills if it’s not fully functional. And at least one fears the company won’t meet state standards for renewable energy. (7)

Ameren is currently seeking a rate increase from customers worth nearly $300 million, including costs that it hopes to recover from ratepayers. But consumer and business advocates filed testimony estimating that the wind farm is only operational about 75 percent of the year.

References

1. “Wind turbine makers struggle to profit from renewable energy boom,” wsj.com, August 24, 2021

2. “Offshore wind costs rising, not falling, data shows,” energyvoice.com, September 11, 2017

3. Bonner R. Cohen, “South Dakota wind turbine manufacturer closing its doors,” Environment & Climate News, August 2021

4. Jon Harris, “Wind energy company closing Lehigh Valley manufacturing plants, shifting work to Mexico,” June 4, 2021

5. Andrew Lee, “GE’s LM wind power to close US turbine blade factory,” rechargenews.com, April 14, 2021

6. David Collins, “The Block Island wind farm has largely shut down,” the day.com, August 7, 2021

7. Allison Kite, “Missouri’s largest wind farm isn’t running at night for fear of killing endangered animals,” missouriindependent.com, September 9, 2021

October 4, 2021 - Posted by | Economics |

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