In order for a major energy project to go from conception to reality many years are required. How many? Francis Menton says at least 10 years or more.
If some project is really going to be a meaningful part of the energy future 10 or so years from now, it had better already be well underway.
Mr. Menton, aka the Manhattan Contrarian, kicking off his latest energy post with the offshore wind situation in the U.S., quotes from the NYT:
The Biden administration wants up to 2,000 turbines in the water in the next eight and a half years.
The New York Times actually has a front-page piece on that today, with the headline “Offshore Wind Farms Show What Biden’s Climate Plan Is Up Against.” To begin, how many offshore wind turbines do you think the U.S. has so far? The answer is in the first paragraph of the article: “The United States has exactly seven.”
Does that sound like a lot? In fact, it’s almost nothing — except to the fisherman and shippers and/or wealthy oceanfront homeowners who are fighting tooth and nail to block it all.
That’s rather embarrassing. So how are we going to turn this around going forward?
Turbines to Generate 0.36% of U.S. Electricity Needs?
At 2 MW capacity per wind turbine (optimistic), 2000 of them could be good for 4000 MW of capacity. With 8760 hours in a year, that means you could get about 35,000 GWH of electricity out of the 2000 turbines if they operated all the time; but of course they don’t — a 40% capacity factor would again be optimistic. That would give you 14,000 GWH of electricity from the 2000 wind turbines (at random times, and requiring full backup, but that’s another issue). According to the EIA, the U.S. uses about 3.8 million GWH of electricity in a year, so these theoretical 2000 offshore wind turbines will with luck generate some 0.36% of our electricity by 2030 — if we started today on a crash program to get them built.
But in fact, the expansion of offshore wind facilities in the U.S. is going exactly nowhere at the current moment.
The NYT piece focuses on one particular bottleneck, which is that installation of these offshore turbines requires specialized gigantic ships, and there aren’t any in the U.S.
Focusing on one particular bottleneck – the specialized gigantic ships required to install these offshore turbines – the NYT notes the inconvenient fact that there aren’t any of these mega-ships in the U.S.
The largest U.S.-built ships designed for doing offshore construction work are about 185 feet long and can lift about 500 tons, according to a Government Accountability Office report published in December. That is far too small for the giant components that Mr. Eley’s [offshore wind turbine] team was working with. . . . The U.S. shipping industry has not invested in the vessels needed to carry large wind equipment because there have been so few projects here.
As Mr. Menton notes, Europeans have built thousands of offshore wind turbines, installed by lots of these specialized construction ships. So why not just hire them? Menton’s answer is simple:
(I)t is prohibited by something called the Jones Act, a U.S. statute that forbids use of foreign flag ships for any intra-U.S. shipping.
There are plenty of other bottlenecks as well, ranging from environmental reviews to endless litigation, and more. But this one bottleneck alone apparently has offshore wind development in the U.S. completely stymied for the time being.
The NYT concludes:
These difficult questions can’t simply be solved by federal spending. As a result, it could be difficult or impossible for Mr. Biden to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by 2035 and reach net-zero emissions across the economy by 2050, as he would like.
In the reality on the ground, thousands of independent actors, both private and governments, are ready and able to fill the demand for fossil fuels and to make lots of money in the process.
Meanwhile, the Democratic pols in the U.S. are so arrogant that they think they can push water uphill. American “clean power” grifters are happy to take their handouts of taxpayer money by the boatload and snicker at the pols behind their backs. One of these visions for the energy future is not real, and it’s not too hard to figure out which one.
Tune in tomorrow for “Windmills with a Side of Rust-Oleum.”
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