Wind energy: Getting cheaper, still about to tank
Wind farms are now far cheaper to operate than they were four years ago. From Bloomberg:
The cost of running and maintaining wind farms has fallen 38 percent in four years as competition among contractors increased and turbine performance improved, bringing closer the day that the technology matches fossil fuel.
The average price of operation and maintenance contracts for onshore farms this year slid to 19,200 euros [$24,600] a megawatt from 30,900 euros [$39,500] in 2008, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said today.
Great news. But it’s not much consolation in the United States, where the sector is withering while Congress fails to extend a production tax credit for wind power, a key tool allowing wind to compete with entrenched fossil fuel generators.
From the Associated Press:
An eerie quiet has settled over the Walker Components plant, which assembles custom cables for a global wind turbine company. Orders are down from earlier in the year and one-third of its employees have been laid off this year.
“At the beginning of this year we just didn’t feel we had enough time, and now we’ve got too much time on our hands,” said one of its workers, 25-year-old Calvin Huddleston. “I really thought wind would be a sustainable business.”
The wind energy boom President Barack Obama touted as key to his energy strategy has hit a wall in an election-year dispute over taxpayer support for renewable energy. …
Congress’ failure to extend past December the production tax credit, a wind-energy tax break first signed into law by Republican President George H.W. Bush, has contributed to job cutbacks from South Carolina to Washington state.
AP then offers this quote:
“The green bubble is starting to fall apart,” said Tom Borelli, a fellow at the tea party group FreedomWorks. “How much longer can we fund things that are not cost-competitive?”
This is the first quote in the piece after the one from the wind plant guy. They asked a Tea Partier from a group founded by a Koch brother; surprisingly, he’s against green energy. Nice work, AP.
Well, anyway, at least wind farms are cheaper to operate now. Like a lovely parting gift after losing one of those rigged 1950s game shows.