We also reported on a Stanford University study that calculated that there's enough wind near shore and over land combined to produce at least half the world's power demand by 2030, using what the researchers say is the most sophisticated climate model ever created.
As the installed base of turbines has grown, manufacturers view operation and maintenance services as an increasingly important revenue stream. That's been especially true during the industry’s current slowdown. One reason for the contract price drops has been better service performance of the turbines themselves. Another is more competitive bidding among turbine manufacturers for service contracts. It's interesting to note that the period covered by the analysis coincides approximately with the worldwide financial downturn, which put the brakes on growth in many industries and heated up competition.
One reflection of turbines' improved performance and improvements in wind farm management is the fact that the contracts' average availability guarantees reached 96.9 percent. The report noted that such guarantees for actual energy production are becoming more common.
The participants in this first Operations and Maintenance Price Index expect contract pricing to remain relatively stable until at least 2015, according to the report. The most competitive pricing of all markets occurred in the US.
In the future, the Index will be updated twice a year.
Ann, that is an interesting point you raise. As costs come down, the payback period will shorten.
Actually, I was visiting a cousin who has a farm in central Illinois. As we were driving to lunch one day I noticed the one wind turbine in the area. On asking him about it, he said the problem was the payback period on them. I guess some people get paid rent to allow tuebines to be sited on their land (like farming rents) while others get involved in the financing of the turbines. Even for turnines to power the farm itself, he said that these are way too expensive to be worth it. These guys are very practical and hard headed. If it does not make sense they don't do it. They are also generally well educated, informed and tech savvy these days. They have to be.
On a related issue, I asked him about corn stalks for ethanol production. They were all still laying around his farm and all the others in the area. I guess the problem is that they have to bundled to be sold to the processors. As long as crop prices are so high because of international demand it will not be worth the extra time and effort for the farmer to do this.
Thanks for your comment, Lou. Since most of the technical and manufacturing efforts for wind turbines right now appear to be aimed at making them in high volumes for wind farms, I'm not surprised that an individual agricultural farmer finds a single wind turbine impractical and payback is slow. It doesn't sound like the rental model is working very well for the individual farmer, but that model could, of course, be tweaked to make it more attractive and productive.
That WT's in small sizes are not really cost effective is because of greed, bad busines model or something else as I can make them for well under $1k/kw vs the $4k/kw most units cost now.
Remember they perfected them in the 30's!!!! Many of them are still running like the Jacob's and others.
A 2k WT enough to run an eff home in an average wind site is more simple than a moped!! So why are they so expensive? I see a great market with large profits I'l be filling within a yr. I can get 200% profit and still beat the others by 50% and even beat the Chinese.
I did go into production of some in the late 70's but the market wasn't there but it is now for a quality unit.
Done right they need little maintaining other than a yrly check and new bearings every 3-5 yrs if designed and built right.
Every time I drive through West Texas I wonder why we don't hear more about energy from wind farms - they are certainly out there and at least in Texas there are many more than a single turbine on the occasional farm...seems like these technologies have been around a long time (like solar) but are extremely slow moving. Some folks are fascinated by renewable energy and are determined to live "off the grid" but it just doesn't seem to be very popular in the mass market place...
Thanks, Rob, I agree about the good news. I find Jerry's input about what I expected, meaning, here's a technology that's not too expensive and it's been around a long time, but has not seen mass adoption. I think much of the reason has little to do with economics or technology, and more to do with psychology. It's the early adopters vs the mass market, as we've seen in many industries, most notably personal electronics. And not that many people live on farms or in the country anymore.
You make a good point. The ROI increases as more users/buyers invest. I'm curious to know how the savings break down. Has the initial cost dropped significantly or just operating? Or, is long-term maintenance where the significant savings are?
Where the savings lie makes a difference for future investors.
And, on a separate note, better design would help lesson the NIMBY factor. Many communities still fight against wind farms as a visual blight.
I am glad to see that the price is dropping, but you did not say anything about storage. How can wind generation amount to more than a couple percent without some way to store the generated energy? When the wind stops, is it not true that the generator draws energy from the grid to keep it warm, to spin it up as the wind increases, control circuits, etc.? And with absolutely no energy storage there must be a coal /gas / ?? always running at 100% to pick up the complete load within a couple cycles of the wind dropping (or cloud crossing the sun).
Without storage solar and wind (even if the hardware were free) can never amount to more than 10% of energy needs. True, we could put up enough generators and solar panels to cover all demands... momentarily, but night comes when no panel works, and days come when even the Santa Ana winds don't blow.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
This month will mark the launch of the SpeedFoiler, a super-fast, ultra-lightweight foiling catamaran that can fly short distances over water faster than other foiling designs, in part because of its carbon composite materials.
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