Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Despite it All, A Very Impressive 2014 for the Wind Biz



Ice buildup on turbine blades can be a show stopper, a pain, a problem to be solved, or just another problem solved. Lots of companies have ways to deal with ice buildup in winter weather. This picture is of a project where a de-icing system was tested out in 2012-2013 in Quebec, where winter is not a wimpy affair, By now its commercially available, and just one of many evolutionary improvements with a revolutionary potential. Such as North America and Europe mostly powered for their electricity supply via the breezes. After all, Denmark got 39% of their electricity from wind last year (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Denmark), while Iowa did over 27%, and that should be bumped up to near 40% by the 2015. In the case of Iowa, that’s less than than 4% of their rated wind energy capacity - way less.

While the average American would never know it, there are still about 73,000 people employed in the wind sourced electricity business. The industry has survived several attempts to snuff it out in recent years - both direct attacks as well as via the consequence of perverse and all pervasive fraud in the North American methane business - in some ways the wind industry is the proverbial luckiest cat that ever was, perhaps with more than 9 lives. Last year almost 5 GW (4.854 GW to be exact) was installed - worth around $10 billion - and at the end of 2014, another $10 billion of new business was signed up with only 2 weeks of a window at the very end of the year via the PTC incentive ”extension". Right now, about $26 billion worth of wind farms are slated to be installed and spinning out renewable electricity by the end of 2016, a year which may prove ominous for renewable energy advocates…. (http://www.awea.org/MediaCenter/pressrelease.aspx?ItemNumber=7181).

Some trivia: in 2012, over $25 billion in business was done mostly installing  new wind farms and manufacturing wind turbines. Since most of the major turbine companies in the US are foreign owned (and is GE really even definable as an American corporation anymore - multinational fits them better), the 12.8 GW worth of installs that year mostly could have been imported as was the case a few years before that. But instead over 70% of all components and final products were made in the USA, and the plague of Chinese/Vietnamese/Korean towers (made possible by dumping) was finally stopped. China’s vaunted prowess in manufacturing was made meaningless not through tariffs but by quality (made in China turbines are notorious for crap grade quality via psuedo-slave labor (though those turbines are low priced), though that may eventually change. Meanwhile, European and North American turbines are proving to generally be quality investments - after all, a cheap turbine that does not work is pretty much a waste of money. But in China, the purpose of making and installing turbines is to employ people and consume steel, concrete and other manufactured goods (China’s massive wind turbine demand is essentially closed to non-Chinese companies and especially imports) and not necessarily to produce electricity. But in most of the rest of the world, the installed turbines are supposed to produce electricity and thus money to pay back the investment, and that may be the defining difference between China and the rest of the world in the renewable energy business. For example, even though China now has around 118 GW of installed capacity, the US with its 65 GW of installed capacity actually produces more electricity from its wind turbines than does Chia with its wind turbines.

But with the demise of the PTC incentive, which is the lesser important tax avoidance subsidy but which helps to provide about 2.8 c/kw-hr worth of incentive over 20 years, installs in 2013 dropped to about $3 billion worth of stuff. Aren’t the Republican’s supposed to be all about business, and if you can stand listening to their relentless propaganda, all about jobs (as in Keystone XL tar sands sludge pipeline)? Yeah, right… What other industry is allowed to drop OVER $22 billion/yr in business with awesome growth potentials, especially one which increases our economic and energy independence (wind displaces imports of methane from our petrocracy neighbor to the north, Canada - see http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n9102cn2A.htm - which are still amounting to around $6 billion a year? If you can think of one, please tell the world. Of course, when the GOP acronym could also stand for “Grand Oil Party” and methane (”natural” gas, not that nitrogen, argon and neon also don’t qualify for that term, and that oxygen is just as ”natural” as is methane (both of biological origin on this planet) is now more and more a part of the future of what remains of the “oil biz” in North America, well, priorities do get set. The GOP is totally in bed with the oil clique (to be honest, so are a lot of Democrats and “Independents”), and they don’t like it when rip-off profits that the oil biz thought were their right from methane don’t materialize because wind sourced electricity is keeping methane prices lower than would be the case if there was no wind sourced electricity. For every $1 per thousand standard cubic feet of methane price change, well, that’s around $25 billion a year that would otherwise be extracted from American consumers (residential, businesses, governments) or avoided money extraction from those same consumers. The 65 GW installed of wind capacity should average around 20.8 GW of electricity, which translates into 1.54 trillion standard cubic feet/yr of avoided methane consumption (based on 2013 electricity production of 19.18 GW average from US wind turbines), which is around 6% of ALL methane consumed in the US for 2014. By avoiding that need to consume that much methane, prices are likely half of what they otherwise would be (though the exact “what if?” calculation is always a bit speculative). Given present prices for methane (which by and large are now UNRELATED to the cost to produce that methane) are $3/kcf, that’s a cool $78 billion is avoided money extraction to the “oil and gas biz”. Source = http://www.eia.gov/renewable/data.cfm#wind

You’re welcome, America. Then multiply that by about 2 for it’s true economic immediate effect and this is around $150 billion a year that is not siphoned out of people/company/government expenditures, and is instead spent on something else. And for that trivial subsidy that amounts to 2.8 c/kw-hr for 20 years, well, it’s around $5 billion a year that goes mostly to really, really rich people via the taxes they would otherwise pay. 

And that too seems to be so totally Republican - helping rich people and the corporations they own/control NOT pay taxes and thus divert money that would otherwise likely have some portion of that money spent on - GAK! - poor people. But it’s only around $5 billion/yr, chump change in the big scheme of things, and besides, there is that gaping hole in the balance sheets of methane extraction companies (and now the banks and rich investors in those methane extraction schemes that were pushing what are now very fraudulent investments). Of the $500 billion in oil and gas junk bonds that are now in danger of going belly up, a big portion were partly or mostly methane based. But since the price needed to make those investments pay off is not happening for either methane OR crude oil, there is much anger in the oil patch, and the Republicans do feel that pain. That $78 billion/yr (or more) which could have been made and sent to (mostly) Republican owned franchise like Texas but will not be made because wind turbines have sand-bagged methane spot prices will mean that someone has to pay….. At this point, it seems like mostly vengeance. And the lesson - don’t put all your chips on something with such an ephemeral price as methane spot prices…. well, this is a crew that does like to teach lessons but does not like to learn them..

And every year that 1.54 trillion cubic feet/yr of methane consumption is avoided also means that around 34 megatons of CO2 pollution is avoided for that year. Oh, and with a 5% or so leakage rate, that’s around 1 megaton of methane pollution avoided, which has a similar greenhouse gas effect as all that CO2 pollution made when the methane was burned. And yes, you are welcome, oceanic coastal dwellers of America. And while that is a drop in the proverbial bucket (US CO2 pollution is around 6,000 megatons/yr (6 gigatons), so wind turbines in the US have dropped that value by 1% simply due to avoided methane consumption….. Not bad some a technology that so many though would never amount to much… And at $42/ton of CO2 equivalent avoided (a US Government value for “social cost of carbon”), that’s another $2.8 billion per year every year, or roughly $71 billion over a 25 year turbine lifespan. That is about half the installed cost of the present US wind turbine fleet (~ 126 billion - somebody (at the AWEA) had to count it up…). See http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/inforeg/social_cost_of_carbon_for_ria_2013_update.pdf

In 2014, China installed 23.351 GW worth new wind turbine capacity, which was over 45% of the new turbines installed in the entire plane (Earth = 51.477 GW), a very impressive feat (http://www.gwec.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/5_global_installed_wind_power_capacity_MW-regional_distribution.jpg). Could Europe and especially the US and Canada replicate that, only with higher quality turbines installed for the purpose of generating electricity and not just to consume labor and manufactured goods? Yes, and create a seriously large number of jobs, too. Is there a shortage of available places to locate new wind turbines, especially the Low Wind Speed variety? No way. Is there a technology to “buffer” the electricity? Yes - it’s called Pumped Hydroelectric Energy Storage - needed when high rates of “renewables penetration”

But would creating more jobs and a lot more affordable electricity for 16% of the cost per kilowatt in tax avoidance subsidies as the nearest renewable competitor (solar PV) be disruptive? Yes indeed. Which is why the meager subsidy that benefits (via avoided methane price spikes/long term price rises) had to be exterminated by the Republicans. The oil and methane business is now having a ”Sad”, along with the financial pirates that were extracting their share from the Exploration and Production side of things - see http://wolfstreet.com/2015/02/09/oil-price-bounce-a-head-fake-could-drop-to-20-citi/. And they will be calling in all the favors they can in the next few months, trying to stave off the ”Repo Man” and then cash in big time as falling production of oil and gas smacks into a steady demand and results in tons of potential speculator profits.


Meanwhile, the answer to what would make actual middle class jobs, a better economy, lower use of fossil fuels, less CO2 pollution and less exports of money (for Canadian methane) is spinning away in front of our eyes. How embarrassing for the methane pushers of America. And for the government of New York state, as we only have some trivial wind energy developments planned before they too end by the end of 2016. Meanwhile, Ontario now has close to twice the installed capacity (3489 MW - http://canwea.ca/wind-energy/installed-capacity/) of NY State (in 2013 the numbers were roughly equivalent - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_New_York). And that ratio will double again in a year or so, all because Ontario had a sanity event with regards to electricity pricing (the Green Energy Act of 2009), something which NY State has scrupulously avoided. Oh well, sometimes we reap what we sow, and how much we reap can be a function of the fact that we are really not even trying much at all…. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 and Norway Goes for Wind Energy


Recently there came an announcement that Norway would install 1 GW (about $US 2.5 billion worth) of wind turbines just from one provider (Vestas - http://renewables.seenews.com/news/norways-statkraft-picks-vestas-for-1-gw-wind-turbine-order-459069). This uses up a lot of the 2013 decision to  to deploy about $3 billion worth of turbines in a separate set of projects. So Norway is going to seriously up their existing 704 MW worth of installed capacity - but then so are a lot of countries. Cool, but what’s so novel about this?

Norway is country whose electricity is essentially all renewable energy sourced already. It is a sparsely populated nordic country that seems to have a lot in common with the “How to Train Your Dragon” movie - “snowy 9 months of the year and hail the other three” as well as “twelve days both of hopeless, and a few degrees south of freezing to death. It’s located on the meridian of misery” where there actually is a small probability of sunshine” - http://www.schoolofdragons.com/how-to-train-your-dragon/areas/isle-of-berk. But thanks to the remnants of the Gulf Stream, it is actually warmer than it longitude (56 degrees to north of the Arctic Circle) would otherwise indicate. There are lots of hills and mountains located near the coast, which is of the North Sea/North Atlantic/southern Arctic Ocean. Those are some of the nastiest waters on the face of the earth - huge waves, near constant gales and worse for weeks on end. There is almost no such thing as forest fires - its is just too darn wet - either from snow, rain or melting glaciers/snowpack. It has 937 hydroelectric stations that supply 99% of the domestic electricity supplies, and depending on the rain/snowfall, lots of electricity to export.

It’s 29 GW of hydroelectric potential delivered an average of 16 GW in 2008, a typical year. The country exported 3 GW of electricity for that. It uses “deferred hydro” as an energy storage arrangement with Denmark - when there is excess wind, some Danish electricity flows into the Norwegian grid, and the flow of water through some dams is curtailed. When it’s not so windy, the stored water is used to generate extra electricity. In contrast to “pumped hydro” energy storage (about 80% efficient), deferred hydro is as close to 100% efficient as can be had. Norway and Denmark are interconnected with underwater HVDC lines (“Cross Skagerrak”) with a 1.7 GW capacity in four transmission lines. In effect, Norway (and to a lesser extent, Sweden) are the “batteries” for the Danish wind industry. There are similar HVDC lines being arranged for Scotland, England, Germany and the Netherlands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NORD.LINK). This is especially important for Denmark because thanks to the Anholt offshore wind farm, they now produce over 40% of their electricity from wind turbines. And at such a high wind energy penetration, batteries are needed….

So Norway has no domestic need for the electricity made from these wind turbines. Apparently, this new wind based electricity is all about exports of electricity for money. But Norway is already such a massive ”over-exporter” thanks to natural gas and oil that its Sovereign Wealth Fund (thanks largely to government ownership of the main oil company, Statoil) now has roughly $US 850 billion in its kitty. Do they really need more? Oh well, at least getting money for the turbines should not be a problem….. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_Pension_Fund_of_Norway

Actually, the latest ebb and flow of world oil prices as well as the methane that is priced in Europe based on oil prices has a lot to do with it. And so does the depletion of the once massive North Sea oil and gas fields (see http://www.indexmundi.com/energy.aspx?country=no&product=oil&graph=production). After peaking in 200 at around 3.2 million barrels/day (mbd), that has now dropped to less than half of that. The new oil fields being found are smaller and even more costly and difficult to tap, and at $50/bbl, they no longer make economic sense to do. Meanwhile, methane production (both from standalone fields, depleted oil fields and gas-only fields) has also peaked last year at 4.5 trillion cubic feet/yr (http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=no#ng - about 1/6 of what the USA makes, with just 5.2 million people).

So, for them, the future appears to be heading in the direction of wind energy. Plus, a couple of years ago - they got quite the climate scare - rain and snow rates dropped drastically for close to a year as did electricity output (increasing weather unpredictability is an effect of Global Warming). But it was still plenty cold, and most residential and commercial heat is supplied by - electricity. Methane is either for chemicals manufacture or for export (sort of like “why eat your seed corn?”), so making sure there is enough electricity - precipitation or no precipitation - is important. And as their fossil fuel money ball depletes despite heroic efforts to milk the North Sea some more, well, at least there is the wind to fall back on.

Perhaps there is a lesson there for the Governor of NY - who supposedly is searching wherever the realm he resides in  for new supplies of energy now that the fracking dream in NY (which never really existed except as some weird fantasy, anyway) and also the nuclear nightmare (at least there are no more new ones planned, though there are still six “oldie moldy” ones cooking away and getting older and more worn out every day. If Norway, which could easily convert methane into electricity and export that elsewhere as well as make up for any shortfalls in hydropower can opt for wind, why can’t NY? Why search the seas for the Great White Whale like a modern version of that demented Captain Ahab, when placing turbines offshore of Long Island will actually bring whales to NY’s waters (once the construction is done, nice fishing and foraging around offshore wind turbine foundations). Is that too much to ask for?



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Strange Energy World of January 2015



The Gamesa G-114 - Windpower Monthly’s wind turbine of the year that was. This is a Low Wind Speed Turbine that is best able to harvest low and medium speed winds and still deliver electricity at quite affordable prices. At 5.1 square meters of swept rotor area per kw of generator capacity, this is more than twice the specific power (m^2/kw of capacity) value that most turbines had just 5 years ago. Turbine owners are installing units like these in medium and fast wind locations (as well as in slower wind zones) and getting net delivered power outputs often averaging more than 40% of the turbine rating (and sometimes over 50%), and this really puts a lot of worry in those pushing methane as the hottest thing since sliced bread with respect to making electricity. And this despite the fact that the methane usage promoters have NO idea what the price of methane - and the cost of the electricity made from that methane - will be a few years from now, let alone 10 to 20 years from now. Geez, what COULD go wrong with such a scheme? As for the price of the electricity from that G114 - perfectly predictable once the financing terms and location are locked down for at least the next 25 years…

Yes, it is a really strange place that we find ourselves in. Evidently we have a slight oversupply in the world oil market - a result of defacto economic recession in Europe and China and the gradual accommodation of much of the world to six years of $100/bbl oil plus a slight increase in the supply, only made possible by the high $100/bbl pricing. At such high prices, getting frugal with gasoline, jet fuel and diesel - such as high fuel efficiency for cars and replacing diesel powered generators (popular in places like India and China) with wind sourced electricity - has the effect of reducing the demand for petroleum products. And there is a special twist to Saudi Arabia’s ability to act as the buffer which so far most of the journalism in the world has failed to catch on to. As a result, there is now a very temporary slight glut in the world oil market - just like has occurred in the domestic North American methane market - and spot prices are at $50/bbl. This happens to be below the cost of production for AT LEAST 10% of the crude oil now produced in the world (around 9 million bbls/day), and any further activities aimed at developing such oil are going to be stopped really fast. But a lot of that 10% happens to be in the US and Canada, where really crappy, expensive to get oil has been miraculously made in large amounts - but only as long as prices are high. At $50/bbl, those efforts are massive money losers, and those financing them are in for a rude surprise, as the bonds used to finance these efforts can’t be repaid. That’s going to be a “Houston, we have a problem” moment, at least until prices resume their inevitable rise to the heights of “until people can’t afford to buy it any more” arrives. When depletion (around 5 million bbls/day for each year) starts to catch up, that oil market will self-correct but that could be a few months from now. 

Meanwhile, there is the electricity side of the energy equation (energy is a bit of a three sided coin with its transportation, heat and electricity aspects). In the country with a huge electricity market and one of the best wind resources that is far in excess of what its population can consume (USA rules!), a group of renegades looking fondly backwards in time (Republicans who apparently hate science and empirically provable facts, as well as the Scientific Method) have done all that they can to stop the nascent wind turbine industry dead in its tracks. And did we mention that the GOP also stands for “Grand Oil Party”, and that the ugly (from a financial standpoint) stepchild of oil, the methane business, is ALSO getting lots of help from the Republicans? After all, the methane part of the oil biz has lost a LOT of money in recent years, and now that oil is going for $50/bbl in bulk markets (which is a lot lower at the wellhead), the oil sector can no longer subsidize this ugly stepchild (ugly only in the sense that it has lost over $150 billion since 2009 in the US from most of the wells using fracking to extract it). Part of the reason for the methane glut is the large amount of fracking for oil activity of late - especially for all the fields except the Bakken (which has minimal gas production per barrel of oil made). The oil/gas fields in the Texas Permian fields are especially notable - those produce a mix that is about half methane/half crude oil. If methane prices were higher (such as $10/MBtu), they would not be such money losers and they might even be money makers, but alas, with too much supply and not enough demand, putting more methane on the market just depresses prices and increases the losses… Oops…

Electricity was supposed to be a way that vast amounts of methane could be consumed and where greater profits should have been possible to collect (methane for heat tends to be a very regulated arrangement in most parts of the U.S.) from methane production. But with the oil rush and all the by-product methane made from that oil (about 33% of all methane marketed in this country now comes from oil wells as a by-product of those operations - see http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=18951), the more oil that was produced means that more methane was made. During the last 4 years almost all wells that have been fracked were done so for oil production, though the methane did have some additional “spare change” value. And so, electricity remains really cheap, made so by having methane sold for below the cost of production often used to generate that electricity. Unfortunately, this cannot go on forever, especially when one of the items subsidizing methane production (oil from wells producing both oil and methane) is itself also now a money loser.

From an economic standpoint, this oil and gas bubble did employ a lot of people and also funded a lot of industrial activity. Unfortunately, when the merry-go-round stops, a lot of oilfield workers and workers and companies dependent on oil drilling as well as on making the tools of the trade (lots of specialized, often made in USA stuff) will no longer be employed. It looks like certain “red states” are in for a hard landing as the money the rest of America was funneling to them for their expensive (but made in USA) oil will only be coming in at half the rate (price dropped in half), and then that money will drop as depletion lowers the production rate. And without new drilling and fracking, the oil and gas production rates will drop really fast - often by half in the space of a year.

Of course, a lot of these newly unemployed could be put back to work, but just not in oil and methane production or oil related activities. It turns out that Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and North Dakota have amazing wind resources. And unlike tight sands and tight shale oil and gas, the wind resource of these places is unlikely to ever deplete. If only the Republican controlled House and Senate could see the light, as economic recessions/depressions (only in those states - other oil consuming but not producing states will likely benefit from cheaper prices) will only get worse if nothing is done to stimulate economic demand. And stimulating the wind biz in these state (and the country in general IS and economic stimulant, and a very good one, too.

But this puts the new Republican controlled House and Senate in a mighty bind. They are essentially handmaidens (or concubines, or “consorts”, or married, or all of the above) to the completely intertwined oil/methane industry and their facilitators/benefactors in the finance industry. Ultimately, the oil business is subservient to the finance sector, notably since the determination of oil pricing is extremely opaque with complicated commodities trading, derivatives bets, futures options pricing and the fact that oil is often used in lieu of gold and other currencies. It is the finance sector that handles bond sales and then slices and dices those into Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO's), which then get peddled by sophisticated "boiler -room" type financial operations. The recycling of the excess dollars accrued to oil exporters is also big business - without that recycling, many major economies in the world would cease being relevant. There is also a LOT of money tied up in oil ASSETS - proven oil and gas fields, pipeline and transport ships, oil and gas inventories, refineries and then the petrochemical complexes using oil and natural gas feedstocks. And there is the $500+ billion in junk bonds that were used to finance the recent fracking boom in the US - those will lose a lot (or all) of their value if the payments on the bonds cannot be made. And then there is a lot of money tied up with respect to insurance on those bonds, as well as bets that those bonds will lose value. The bets on those bonds may soon exceed the nominal value of those junk bonds….

The financiers want their money as agreed to by the fracking well drillers. But there will be no more loans to them or bonds offered from them that will get buyers, so the fracking business is essentially the equivalent of “the walking dead”. Without new bond sales, they cannot drill and “stimulate” more wells. But without new wells, their oil and methane flows will start dropping at very noticeable rates. Without constantly drilling (which needs financing, even more difficult because the secret of how much money is generally being lost in this business is getting out and into public view), the huge supply chain (fracking sand, chemicals, expertise, pipe, rental equipment, trucks to haul stuff, etc) goes ”poof”. And with all those angry and unemployed oil workers trickling back to Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, well, their Republican congress critters will hear about that real soon. For those critters to get reelected, there will be a need to stimulate the economic prospects of those workers and the businesses in the supply chain. Well, there is always the wind biz, and these soon to be panicking southern conservative House members could get mighty tempted to go off the oil and methane reservation. After all, in politics, it’s “What have you done for me lately” that tends to rule. In the meantime, all the money sloshing around that was going to go into fracking has to go somewhere or it, too will evaporate/get dissipated. And at least in the wind biz, investors rarely lose money - they may not make huge rentier profits, but some profits are better than none. Even if they are wind sourced instead of oil sourced….

Now, some may hope that the State Department, big oil companies, big banks and/or major hedge fundies (religious fundies, meet the Hedge fundies…) might be able to talk Saudi Arabia into going back to its “swing producer mode” - when oil prices drop, they cut back on production, keeping prices high, and when prices get too high, they increase production), but that may be a thing of the past. Their oil minister has said that they won’t reduce their production unless all other producers do so in lock step - and that is not likely to happen. But it could well be that the Saudi’s are contractually obligated NOT to reduce production rates because those rates and the oil quantity has already been sold, or close to it via a “pre-pay” scheme. See http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2015/1/1/195652/1093. So, it will fall to others to lower oil output in order to once again match supply and demand at some price that allows all who make that oil to make some profit, and allow a lot of that oil production to be hugely profitable, too. Because the cost of production of most oil has been unrelated to the price obtained for it for some time….

In the meantime, a sector not rife with such bizzaro pricing as oil and methane is dying off once again in the U.S. Essentially no new projects will be announced until the Production Tax Credit or an improvement on it gets announced. This deployment of wind turbines could employ a lot of people who will be rendered as unemployed in the next few months, because the wind resources in much of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas and the Dakotas is nothing less than awesome. And unlike the oil and gas fields, depletion is not an issue. Of course, this will not happen right away, but the hurt train is definitely coming to the oil patch, fast. Of course, the rest of the country could also benefit, though the 50 or so red state congress critters seem to have no care about that aspect of the wind business. In fact, that is one of the reasons they have opposed wind energy so much, despite residing on the proverbial goldmine of wind. 

And with the now full scale commercialization of LWST around the world, the only excuse not to do this is in the USA is just plain whoring to the oil and gas industry and all around general meanness. Since the oil and gas biz will soon be running short on money, the loyalty of these legislators is in doubt. And the bankers really have no loyalty - they just want to get out of the bursting cracker bubble without losing too much. And it would be nice to see some of this potential realized ….. the new 2015 US wind maps for LWST on tall towers website also has this very interesting graph:





For example, using LWST and 110 meter tall towers, an area of 4 million square kilometers is deemed “commercial” with an estimated 30% net output or better in the continental USA. At 1 x 2 MW turbine per km^2, that is 8,000 GW of capacity, and 2400 GW on a delivered basis. The US now needs 450 GW of electricity (average delivered basis), so the 2400 GW is 5.3 times what we now use. Of course, these maps are based on 5 MW of capacity per km^2, so this gives us 13 times our needs. And if the tower height is increased to 140 meters for those areas that need it (especially the southeast states), that’s 16 times our electricity needs. And if that is not enough, we also have a pretty awesome offshore resource in the Atlantic and Great Lakes (shallow water) and deepwater (Pacific and some of the Great lakes). In short, we have enough to power up our country with heat and electricity many times over using very affordable wind turbine based electricity, even accounting for energy storage losses (pumped hydro). 

But so what? None of that happens until the red state Republicans either get tossed into irrelevancy in the 2016 elections and/or they dump their current oil and gas sponsors/owners when the oil and gas people turn up way less than broke and not a lot of money to spare. Which one do you think will happen first…..?

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