How many times have we heard that wind power, coupled with the sun’s energy, is going to save us from our fossil-fuel burning ways? Maybe one day it will. But at no time soon will it happen. And by soon, we mean in most of our lifetimes.
How can we say this? Look around at what’s happening with wind energy:
“California’s Central Coast residents work to stop — or at least slow down — offshore wind.” California believes that by 2045 it can operate its electrical grid without contributions from fossil fuels and nuclear energy. To get there, one-fourth of the power must be generated by offshore wind. This CalMatters report, which summarizes the resistance to offshore wind projects, should set off alarms not just in Sacramento but in other blue state capitals as well as Washington, D.C. (unless Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman gets there first).
“Orsted Threatens To Abandon U.S. Offshore Wind Projects.” Here we learn that “the world’s largest offshore wind farm developer is preparing to walk away from U.S. projects unless the Biden administration guarantees more support.” In other words, offshore wind is so uneconomical that unless the taxpayers “pitch in,” it’s not worth the trouble for private companies to stay in the game. Furthermore, “Europe’s ‘green tech’ future has been threatened due to waning investment flows.”
“Electricity from wind isn’t cheap and it never will be.” In this London Telegraph column, science writer Matt Ridley writes that “The latest auction of rights to build offshore wind farms failed to attract any bids, despite offering higher subsidized prices. That alone indicates that wind is not cheap or getting cheaper.”
“The Offshore-Wind Boondoggle.” Jonathan Lesser, president of Continental Economics and a Manhattan Institute adjunct fellow, compares the the reality of offshore-wind to “the proverbial skunk at a garden party.” He notes that “In Europe, as University of Edinburgh economist Gordon Hughes documents, wind energy’s capital costs have risen over time, and newer and larger offshore wind turbines have regularly broken down.”
“Offshore Wind Projects Are Going Broke.” According to the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, the White House’s “goal of using wind to power 10 million homes in the Northeast is faltering, with roughly a quarter of projects likely to be delayed or canceled. Since July, four Massachusetts contracts and one in Connecticut have been shelved.” Energy analyst James Lucier said the “companies are losing money hand over fist,” with one having “just admitted that it’s time to be candid about just how much more renewable electricity is going to cost.”
“Wind Industry in Crisis as Problems Mount.” In this Aug. 7 report, the Wall Street Journal says “the wind business, viewed by governments as key to meeting climate targets and boosting electricity supplies, is facing a dangerous market squall. … The setbacks are piling up for both onshore and offshore projects, but the latter’s problems are more acute.”
The list above is no more than a start. There are many more stories we could have cited, and there are many more to come. Wind energy is unreliable and its costs are not competitive at scale. The dream of offshore wind farms powering tens of millions of U.S. homes in the next two decades is a fantasy.
In the the musical “Paint Your Wagon,” we’re told that Maria (the “i” rhymes with “eye”) is the name of the wind that “blows the stars around and sends the clouds a’flyin’. ” In the real world, she’s a fickle mistress whose capriciousness is best left for poets and songwriters to wrestle with. Natural gas, nuclear and coal, might not inspire popular ballads, but they do keep the lights on.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board