Monday, April 24, 2023

Lushington D. Brady: Don’t Knock the Wind Turbines

Is there anything good about wind turbines? The monstrosities are a blight on rural landscapes: a munching, menacing monster to birds and bats (including dozens of endangered wedge-tailed eagles in Tasmania) and a toxic nightmare to both build and dispose of. And for all that, we get unreliable, intermittent electricity and soaring power bills.

The best the bastard things could do is fall over.

Which, as it happens, is exactly what more and more of them are doing.

In Australia, wind farm developers are racing to install the biggest machines they can.

The 1,026MW Macintyre wind farm in Queensland will use turbines that stand 230 metres tall from base to blade tip and carry 80 metre blades that weigh 26.6 tonnes each.

Neoen’s 157 MW Kaban wind farm in Queensland is using 5.6 MW turbines that stand 225 tall and carry 79 metre blades, while Tilt Renewables’ 396MW Rye Park wind farm, near Yass in the NSW Southern Tablelands, will feature 66 Vestas turbines rated at 6MW each.

They might come to regret it even more than the rural communities who have to put up with the ugly, noisy monstrosities.

Wind turbine failures are on the uptick, from Oklahoma to Sweden and Colorado to Germany, with all three of the major manufacturers admitting that the race to create bigger turbines has invited manufacturing issues, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Multiple turbines that are taller than 750 feet are collapsing across the world, with the tallest – 784 feet in stature – falling in Germany in September 2021. To put it in perspective, those turbines are taller than both the Space Needle in Seattle and the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. Even smaller turbines that recently took a tumble in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Wales and Colorado were about the height of the Statue of Liberty.

So, “smaller” is in fact, still “colossal”. And they’re going down like ninepins, apparently.

Turbines are falling for the three largest players in the industry: General Electric, Vestas and Siemens Gamesa.

Still, it’ll save having to just rip the damn things down in a few years, when they’re even less productive than they already are, and bury them in landfill.

A wind turbine’s blades can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing, so at the end of their lifespan they can’t just be hauled away. First, you need to saw through the lissome fiberglass using a diamond-encrusted industrial saw to create three pieces small enough to be strapped to a tractor-trailer.

Maybe they should just dig a pit in front of the turbine and let nature cut out the middle-man.

Tens of thousands of aging blades are coming down from steel towers around the world and most have nowhere to go but landfills. In the US alone, about 8,000 will be removed in each of the next four years. Europe, which has been dealing with the problem longer, has about 3,800 coming down annually through at least 2022, according to BloombergNEF. It’s going to get worse: Most were built more than a decade ago, when installations were less than a fifth of what they are now […]

“The wind turbine blade will be there, ultimately, forever,” said Bob Cappadona, chief operating officer for the North American unit of Paris-based Veolia Environnement SA, which is searching for better ways to deal with the massive waste. “Most landfills are considered a dry tomb.”

“The last thing we want to do is create even more environmental challenges.”

And yet, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

In the European Union, which strictly regulates material that can go into landfills, some blades are burned in kilns that create cement or in power plants. But their energy content is weak and uneven and the burning fiberglass emits pollutants.

How very “green” of them.

Lushington describes himself as Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. This article was first published HERE


Anonymous said...

Great opportunity though for lubricant manufacturing! Aha, the oil industry in the wings (ooops, pun) again.

TJS said...

Love the title, see what you did there. I guess we can say we can't lean on them eithther!