We always wish our windy friends well, since we like the aesthetics of windmills and they answer to the need for renewable energy sources, but sometimes you just have to wonder:
The wind industry is suffering from increasing capital costs [this is in the UK] and needs three to four manufacturers competing to bring down construction costs, the association said. Costs of building wind capacity are forecast to rise for the next few years and then decline from current levels until 2015, the group [The British Wind Energy Association} said.
Without putting too fine a point on it, if costs are going to increase over the “next few years,” that about gets us to 2015. Frankly, we imagine wind has the, er, wind at its back and its costs will decrease as economies of scale kick in. Which renders this whole story kind of silly.
“We could see prices fall by as much as 20 percent from today’s 3.1 million pounds ($5.1 million) per megawatt” of installed capacity, McCaffery said. “Government must pull out all the stops to accommodate this program.”
And what stops should government pull? A different story provides some clues:
Demand for turbines outstrips supply so that has pushed up the price. [still kind of silly – see a demand, ramp up supply.]
It is made worse by the value of the pound because turbines are priced in euros.
It is also still difficult to secure the necessary investment.
On top of all of this, power generators still want a strategic plan from the authorities for a full offshore grid, rather than the ad hoc connections preferred by Ofgem. [Ofgen is the electricity/gas regulator in Britain.]
That last part is key. While the story asserts that the electricity grid can handle the intermittency of wind without undue strain – which will allow for a ramp down on coal even while nuclear sticks around – and we really hope that true and not just hopeful - the lack of grid integration with where windmills happen to be does represent a problem. Seems solvable, and the British do have a will to make wind energy work.
We would, however, recommend an enterprising Brit type open a turbine factory. The market’s there – it’s odd that both these stories take it for granted that the turbines have to come from the continent. We’re already seeing companies open fabrication plants for the nuclear industry here – seems plausible for the Brits and wind, too.
This Executive Windmill is solar powered. That’s renewable squared! It’ll set you back $350, which explains the Executive part.