By David Wojick
The climate Left is touting all the jobs that will be created by offshore wind development. They never mention that those fine jobs will all be paid for by those who use electricity, including the low income ratepayers.
They think the huge offshore wind costs are benefits because somebody gets the money. In fact jacking up electric rates is a highly regressive tax. Electricity is a big cost in low income household budgets. The poor will get hit the hardest, paying for other people’s good jobs, for no good reason.
Plus most of those good jobs will be in other countries, especially Europe and Asia. We do not have a domestic offshore wind production industry so almost all of the equipment, which is most of the cost, will come from someplace else. Even the boats are foreign.
New Jersey is arguably the leader in stupidity here, although there are several serious contenders, so let’s take them as a quick example. Keep in mind that NJ already has all the power generating capacity it needs. More on this later.
Their stated offshore wind development goal is a huge 11,000 MW. Dominion Energy has decided to own Virginia’s offshore wind facility, instead of buying the juice from developers, so we have some public information on what this stuff costs. Their present estimate is around $4 billion per thousand MW for construction.
Thus NJ ratepayers are looking at something like $44 billion just to build their target. Dominion says finance charges are a bit more than construction so let’s say NJ’s green dream will cost $88 billion to build and pay for.
Then their is operation, maintenance and repair. It was recently reported that the new giant turbines that are planned to be used are having high failure rates, so this could be a big number.
Another big number that I have seen nothing on is the grid upgrades required to handle all this new juice. The New England ISO estimates that around 4,500 miles of transmission lines will have to be rebuilt and newly built to handle their proposed offshore wind, which is much smaller than New Jersey’s.
All things considered, a round $100 billion is a good working number for New Jersey’s proposed offshore wind. Electric bills will be going way up to pay it. Most of that money will be leaving the State and the Country.
Here’s a hoot. The majority owner of the biggest offshore developer (Ørsted) is the Government of Denmark. So the people of New Jersey will be sending big bucks to Queen Margrethe for the use of her juice. She probably has a better job than they do.
The stated reason for hammering the people of New Jersey this much is to reduce CO2 emissions. Here it is also nutty.
To begin with NJ already retired its roughly 2,000 MW of reliable coal fired power plants (in just the last six years) so that emission reduction is out. What is truly funny is that the State now gets about half its juice from nuclear power plants, which already have zero emissions.
Pretty much the rest of the electricity comes from gas fired plants, but here things get tricky. A significant fraction comes from peaking plants that only run when a lot of energy is needed, typically during very hot or very cold weather. Both cases usually have low to no wind, so all those offshore turbines will not reduce the peaker emissions.
The regular gas fired plants will also run frequently because low wind happens off and on year round. Moreover they typically have to run on standby when the wind is blowing. They have huge boilers that take days to start up, so cannot be shut down if they are backing up the wind generators. This “spinning reserve” as it is called is yet another big cost of offshore wind. New Jersey does not need more generating capacity
The real kicker is that building all this wind capacity creates enormous emissions.
Here is a simple example, among many. Each turbine tower stands on a giant monopile driven into the seabed. Each is a steel tube, say 300 feet long and 30 across, weighing around 2,500 tons. Assuming each turbine is 14 to 15 MW, which most plans call for, that is around 750 monopiles, weighing in at just under 2 million tons.
That is a lot of iron that has to be mined somewhere, processed, turned into steel, fabricated into monopiles and shipped to New Jersey, probably from Europe. I suspect the combined emissions dwarf the tiny reduction in gas fired NJ electricity.
And this is just the monopiles. There are also the emissions stemming from creating the towers, turbines, blades, offshore substations, undersea power cables, etc., plus all the onshore grid upgrades.
In fact the enormous steel substations might well be made in Singapore or Indonesia, with tremendous shipping emissions. The Empire Wind project off New York just ordered substations from both places. New York is a strong contender in the offshore stupidity contest.
Bottom line is the offshore wind stampede will cost the people of New Jersey a fortune with no real benefits. Local jobs are nice but they are a cost not a benefit.
- David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy.
- For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.