Heading east from Cleveland....
If you travel from east of Cleveland to west of Cleveland via I-90, there is a new sight that comes up in the town of Euclid, Ohio (which is a couple miles east of Cleveland). At the manufacturing facilities of Lincoln Electric, a brand new 2.5 MW wind turbine on an 80 meter tall tower just got installed this summer. Lincoln manufactures welding systems of all kinds, and a lot of welding is used in wind turbines, notably in the steel towers and in the nacelle. And so this might be blatantly self-serving, but this is also good business by Lincoln Electric - see http://www.lincolnelectric.com/en-us/company/Pages/company.aspx
For some nifty picture of the turbine, see http://tmi.digitalcolorinternational.com/index.php/2011/06/16/graceful-lincoln-electrics-wind-turbine/
The wind turbine is made by Kenersys (now an Indian owned company, as some Indians bought out the German Kenersys company). The Kenersys wind turbine was designed in Germany by some people who used to work at other wind turbine companies (and if any US company wants to, they can purchase these plans for a small fraction of the cost needed to design one from (more or less) scratch). Of course, you can also purchase a design for wind turbines from AMSC (formerly American Superconductor Company) and their European subsidiary, Windtec (see http://www.amsc.com/windtec/index.html). In fact, almost all Chinese and Indian wind turbine companies, or companies that make these (and to some extent, India's largest wind turbine company, Suzlon, who also own most or all of RE Power) have purchased European technology (notably German, Danish and Dutch). This can also come with the DESIGN OF THE FACTORIES needed to manufacture the towers/blades and/or nacelles, and some key major components.
So, the only excuse for American manufacturers not making more turbines is.... bad renewable energy pricing systems in the U.S. After all, who wants to plunk a bunch of money down and then lose it all? There is now over $2.5 TRILLION in corporate cash stashed in banks earning miniscule interest rates, supposedly "looking" for a viable investment opportunity, so lack of money does not cut it as an excuse, but the lack of a viable investment that this money could buy is VERY REAL. By the way, that $2.5 trillion would be buy 1,000,000 MW to 1,250,000 MW of wind turbine capacity (depends if it is "regular" or Low Wind Speed Turbine - LWST - designs), or roughly equal in output to the present average consumption of electricity in the U.S. Of course, if all that presently unused cash was actually used for something productive which increases the real wealth of our country (as wind turbine manufacture and installation does), then there is a multiplier effect on our national wealth and well-being, as well as some serious job creation that would take place if this "project" of using that stashed booty for something useful was to happen over, for example, a 20 year period.
Here is a bit about Kenersys: http://p57320.typo3server.info/KENERSYS-Profile.23.0.html and
http://p57320.typo3server.info/Synerdrive-Technology.21.0.html. According to this article (http://www.ien.com/ienblog.aspx?id=168128), the tower was made in Nebraska, the blades in Poland and the nacelle (and probably most of the parts in the nacelle) in Germany. The K100 x 2.5 MW unit ( see http://p57320.typo3server.info/K100-2-5MW.20.0.html) has a 100 meter rotor, and with a "power ratio" of 3.14 square meters per kilowatt of generator capacity, this qualifies as a regular to fast wind speed turbine. It is estimated to supply about 10% of that manufacturing facility's electric needs, or between 500 to 750 kw on average. This is a pretty large manufacturing site (5 major buildings), with a combined electricity usage averaging 5 MW to 7.5 MW, and about the size of a large auto manufacturing complex.
Welding is used in so many applications these days, and it is integral to modern manufacturing societies (ships, cars, pipelines, buildings, factories, roads, railroads, for example). Industry and our society as we know it is not possible without the ability to join metal parts together by welding, and just about every kind of metal can be welded under the right circumstances. So, Lincoln Electric and the community of Euclid are rightfully proud of their new addition (and the tax breaks to Lincoln for this installation aren't too shabby, either).
In so many instances the term "Industrial Wind Turbine" is used in a pejorative manner. It is an insult, a way to instill fear and loathing, and a way instigate a knee-jerk automaton response of terror from key rural community members - especially those who approve PILOT agreements, and approve environmental reviews/zoning changes or who rule local communities. After all, most of the land needed to install wind turbines, and the windiest regions, too, happen to exist in rural areas. Just try to Google the term "industrial wind" and a litany of horrors upon "fact" and "scientific" method can be seen - or else classic examples of weaseling, propaganda, Orwellian language manipulation, framing, and how to misrepresent, confuse and obfuscate can be seen. Remember "infrasound?" How about the "spinning reserve" jive in a state like NY, where we have over 1680 MW of pumped hydro available in state (and lots more nearby) and another 1000 MW of instant hydro capacity at Niagara Falls. Wind turbine generators also have "spinning reserve", too... As for the avian arguments... mostly "gone with the wind". Now it's all down to something very subjective - sound, and more importantly, "perceived sound", and especially the argument over "who owns the view?" And as for who is financing anti-wind arguments, websites that tend to all look alike/use the same bloggers/authors and "fact tours"/slick talking points, well, sometimes you can find coal, oil, natural gas and nuke money, straight up or else often disguised as various non-profit "Institutes" (e.g. "Heartland", "Competitive Enterprise", "Cato"), "Foundations" (Bradley, Olin, Heritage) and the like. Oh well, so much for that digression...
Wind turbines that make electricity at the lowest cost are big, no doubt about it. Another term for wind turbines that make electricity at minimum real (subsidies not included) costs is "commercial scale wind turbines". Small units may be a lot less expensive (a few thousand dollars) as compared commercial scale units (a few million apiece), but when you examine the electricity production cost, small units make more expensive energy than the big boys. This Kenersys unit cost over $5 million to buy and install, and one of the key items in keeping the electricity production cost close to that made by large coal and old nuke facilities in Ohio (at about 3 to 5 c/kw-hr, also heavily subsidized and long since paid off) is the MACRS rapid depreciation tax deduction (Lincoln probably used the Section 1603 30% grant instead of the Production Tax Credit, or PTC). That MACRS incentive is worth over $2 million in avoided taxes in the next 6 years, but that is the way the U.S. chooses to make wind turbines economically viable, or at least less non-viable. However, the U.S. system is vastly inferior to pricing systems like Ontario's or Quebec's.
This new turbine at Lincoln will replace purchased electricity, as it is a "behind the meter" use displacing electricity that includes the connection and transmission cost, as well as the cost to make that electricity elsewhere. The electricity made by the K100 unit is still vastly less expensive on a real basis (subsidies ignored) than would ever be the case with solar PV, a biomass plant, or even new coal and nuke plants. And who's to say what the price for natural gas will be in 20 years, aside from "unpredictable"? However, the cost to make this wind sourced electricity will be perfectly predictable throughout the next 20 years, and probably for some time after that, too.
So, industrial wind and proud of it. If you don't like industrial, consider a place without "industrial", like, for example, Somolia. "Industrial" can buffer us from heat, cold and drought - for example, seawater could be made drinkable with either solar distillation units (welding, piping, pumps, motors, glass) or reverse osmosis plants (powered by wind turbine derived electricity) in a place like Somolia. Most of the people in that semblance of a country are now experiencing a horrible drought as well as a very uncivil "civil war" that is more or less a survival of those who have water access contest and weapons. This horrid conflict will kill millions (and perhaps the majority of those presently residing there) with either bullets, drought, famine, thirst and/or disease often brought on by those other perils. A little "industrial" could be very helpful with respect to potable water from the ocean, not to mention distributing it. "Industrial" also brings us modern forms of birth control, which prevents wild surges in human populations whenever they get food and water. "Industrial" definitely needs some societal supervison, but industrial also allows civilization as we know it to exist, including telecommunications and computers, so "tweet that!". Maybe civilization on a world awash with 6.5 billion human beings is really the target of those opposed to "industrial wind turbines". What do you think?
Late Night FDL: Life’s Been Good
2 hours ago