The German BDEW (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft e.V.) has in its April issue of the magazine “Streitfragen” an interesting chapter on the problems of offshore wind power (in politically correct speech this is called a “challenge”). Sadly the introduction starts with the usual untruth: “In 2030 there should 25 GW offshore wind power be installed, equivalent to 20 nuclear reactors”. This is a blatant lie: with a capacity factor of at most 51 % (this corresponds to the truly exceptional 2011 delivery of the small 60MW offshore wind park Alpha Ventus, usually one expects 44%) , 25 GW installed offshore power would give at most 25*0.5*8640/1000 = 108 TWh whereas 20 nuclear 1500 MW reactors with a capacity factor of at least 0.75 would deliver 20*(0.75*1.5*8640/1000) = 194.4 TWh, practically the double. More: this nuclear power would be almost constantly available, whereas wind power (be it on-shore or off-shore) remains intermittent and will be comparable only when strong storage solutions exist (actually not the case).
This figure from Wilfried Heck’s website “Naturstrom Euphorie in Deutschland” shows the off-shore wind power injected into the Tennet grid: from January to end of March 2012 there were 1205 wind power “blackouts” lasting 15 minutes and more (for a total of 12.5 days during the 91 days period)
In May 2010 two Areva wind turbines had to be changed only one month after the wind park was fully installed, because there were problems with the bearings. In total, 6 of the 12 turbines had their gondolas replaced.
But let us look into some of the interesting comments made in the articles about the “offshore challenge”:
Sven Becker, CEO Trianel:
“Bis 2030 soll nach den Vorstellungen der Bundesregierung die Offshore-Windenergie auf 25 000 Megawatt ausgebaut werden. Bei dieser Vision klaffen allerdings Anspruch und Wirklichkeit weit auseinander. Die ursprünglich bis 2020 angestrebten 10 000 Megawatt sind nach dem heutigen Erkenntnisstand schon nicht mehr erreichbar” (Short translation: 25000 MW should be installed in 2030. Reality is different. Even the plan of 10000 MW installed for 2020 will not be feasible).
For the moment only 3 off-shore wind parks with 135 total installed name plate capacity are functioning. The biggest problem is how to find 100 billion Euros that should be invested in the next 20 years.
Manfred Hülsmann, Stadtwerke Osnabrück:
“We need a Marschall plan”
My comment: does this ring a familiar bell? Each time if plans are over-ambitious (modern speech for utopia, not-attainable), a Marshall plan will be required.
Bettina Morlock, Stadtwerke-Kooperation SüdWestStrom:
“Offshore wind power is more expensive than expected.”
Hans Bünting, RWE Innogy:
“We are worried about the expansion of the electricity grid “.
He recalls that the turbines of the latest wind park “Nordsee-Ost” will stay idle for at least a year because the power lines can not be installed as planned (grid constructor is TenneT)
Martin Fuchs, CEO TenneT:
The delivery times of grid material are over 50 months. The huge investments needed for the colossal expansion of the electrical grid (off-shore as well as on-shore) should rest on more shoulders.
My comments: TenneT (a not too big Dutch TSO) received quite a lot of angry comments as it had to acknowledge its incapacity to honor the planned time-schedule for building the power lines from land to the Nort-Ost wind park. It even had to admit that without further (financial) help, its own resources would be insufficient for the planned task.
The BDEW is usually a more cautious organization, distant from the hysteric-emitional crowd. It has to walk a thin line, as deviation from the political correct “Ausstieg” and “Energiewende” agendas is risky. So to get the point, you have to read between the lines. Well, the above comments show that the bites of reality may be painful!