Virginia’s Latest Folly – Offshore Wind Power

Crews install turbine foundations for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project. Image source: Energy News Network

by David Wojick

Dominion Energy is planning to begin construction on 2,600 MW of offshore wind generating capacity within the next few years. The wind farm planned off the cost of Virginia Beach would be the largest offshore project in the United States. We are talking about something like 220 giant windmills, embedded in the ocean floor and sticking hundreds of feet into the air above the water. They will be on the order of one and a half times taller than the Washington Monument, which is really tall.

Two features make this offshore wind plan a folly — too little wind and too much wind. Let’s look at too little wind first.

The proposed site is around 30 miles offshore of the giant Norfolk naval complex. Sites are usually much closer in than this, but maybe the Navy told them to keep their distance. Or perhaps they are out beyond the very busy shipping lanes. Every ship from Central and South America, or the southeast U.S., headed for ports from Baltimore north to Canada, passes through this area. This in itself is a concern but not one we are looking at now.

The problem is that this area frequently gets periods of a week or more when the wind is too low to generate any power. These are winds of 10 mph or less. Normal wind turbines require sustained wind of 33 mph or more to generate full power. Some new models with giant blades can do full power at just 23 mph. But neither generates much of anything at 10 mph. It is not a matter of no wind; low wind is enough.

Weather records for Norfolk show just such an event last year, with the low wind period being August 17-23. The wind never measured over 10 mph for the entire seven days.

To make matters worse, when these low wind periods occur in summer they often include very high temperatures. In the event cited above the high temperatures were in the upper 80’s and low 90’s. Away from the ocean, temperatures were even higher. Both Richmond and Washington, D.C., saw high temperatures in the mid to upper 90’s for most of this week long period.

These high temperatures create the greatest need for electricity, called peak demand. Combining peak demand with no wind power means this huge, expensive wind facility does nothing when electricity is most needed. Some other form of power generation will have to be standing by to do what the 5,000 MW of useless offshore wind power cannot do.

There is no provision for this duplication of generating capacity in the Virginia plan. If it is not there when needed, then a prolonged blackout is the only option.

Week-long periods of no generation low wind occur fairly often in the Norfolk area, perhaps once every few years. In a hot summer they may occur more than once. But there are also many shorter periods of low wind, with a high need for electricity, that occur more frequently. Then too there are no doubt longer periods of low wind that occur less frequently. At the one-in-fifty-year frequency we might get a month or more of low wind. I see no evidence that these possibilities have been addressed in the Virginia plan.

On the high wind side we have hurricanes.

This area could be called hurricane alley because many storms turn north in the Caribbean and run up the American coast. Southern Virginia and northern North Carolina actually stick out into this flow. That is where these tall towers will be.

Category five hurricanes have sustained winds over 156 mph with gusts that can exceed 200 mph. To date no offshore wind towers have been designed to withstand these sorts of winds. Most have been built in Europe where hurricanes do not occur. The force of the wind is a function of the square of the wind speed, so a 160 mph wind is four times as destructive as an 80 mph wind.

In fact the U.S. Energy Department recently announced a new research program to look into whether a hurricane proof design is even possible. Here’s how DOE puts it:

Although hurricanes and the damage they can cause remain difficult to predict, with current R&D, the Energy Department is taking steps to alleviate potential risks to offshore wind systems that will eventually be deployed in the southeastern and mid-Atlantic regions.

DOE puts a positive spin on it but it seems clear that we are in no position to build massive hurricane-proof offshore wind facilities today. DOE says “eventually” and even that may be wishful thinking.

One thing certain is that if Virginia goes ahead, in effect playing chicken with cat 5 storms, these hundreds of towers will have to be far stronger than standard European designs. Stronger means more expensive. The standard cost is around $1.5 million per MW, which would be $7.5 billion in Virginia’s case. If hurricane proofing doubles the cost that puts a monstrous $15 billion at risk of destruction.

Conclusion: The Virginia plan is calling for a massive and incredibly expensive offshore wind generating facility, at high risk of failure, that will produce no power whatever when it is needed most.

David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. A version of this column was published originally at www.cfact.org, a website of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

There are currently no comments highlighted.

46 responses to “Virginia’s Latest Folly – Offshore Wind Power

  1. But the utility and its stockholders are guaranteed to be paid in full by ratepayers. So….mission accomplished! Democratic politicians get to posture. Another mission accomplished. Prices go through the roof, forcing the non-rich people to reduce consumption and diminish their lifestyle. Main mission accomplished.

  2. Some points you might wish to recheck.
    Number 1. Wind.
    A) The winds onshore and offshore vary significantly, especially in August. Thermal loading on land tend to create sea breeze conditions in the coastal regions, although I can remember cases of the sea breeze turning the wind vanes in Richmond. Norfolk is not 30 miles offshore.
    B) Aloft. We’re talking about winds at between 250 and 750 up. Better check your numbers there too.

    Number 2. Hurricanes. The current structures (2017) are designed to withstand sustained gusts to 160 mph. Sure ’nuff you’re correct in that studies have shown that “stuff happens”. Of course these were older farms and older designs. Dominion has assure up to and including Cat 5. I guess we’ll see. Of course, the hotels in VB might draw more attention in that case.
    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/753/4/042003/pdf

    Number 3. Shipping. If the Gerald Ford can fit under these things, anything can. Nevertheless, one could hit one dead on. Generally, obstacles to navigation are held blameless in such situations. True, Exxon did try to blame the reef, but eventually settled on the captain’s drunkenness.

    • Put your glasses back on, N_N.

      What he said was “The proposed site is around 30 miles offshore of the giant Norfolk naval complex”.

      • He was using Norfolk winds, if he actually did research the winds. He needs the winds 30 miles out. Big difference. That would be like using the tides at Swells Point for estimating the current direction at Windmill Point.

  3. well, it helps to know about Wojick, Ph.D. and http://www.cfact.org, Wojick’s Ph.D. in the philosophy of science and mathematical logic

    CFACTs Total revenues over the years 2009 through 2011 have averaged around $3 million, as reported on the organization’s IRS Form 990[7] and its 2011 annual audited financial statement.[8] In 2010, nearly half of CFACT’s funding came from Donors Trust, a nonprofit donor-advised fund with the goal of “safeguarding the intent of libertarian and conservative donors”.[9] .[10] In 2011, CFACT received a $1.2 million grant from Donors Trust, 40% of CFACT’s revenue that year.[11] Peabody Energy funded CFACT before its bankruptcy as did Robert E. Murray’s Murray Energy before its bankruptcy.[12][13]

    Advocacy activities
    CFACT is a member organization of the Cooler Heads Coalition, which rejects climate science, is known to promote falsehoods about climate change and has been characterized as a leader in efforts to stop the government from addressing climate change. CFACT supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as well as hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in natural gas and oil-rich regions of the country.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_for_a_Constructive_Tomorrow

    So.. we’d not exactly expect a balanced viewpoint here.

    They’re basically shills for the fossil fuel industry and climate deniers to boot… and their funding donors are not identified.

    • Well, all that worry over a Category 5 hurricane hitting the farm is meaningless then since getting a Cat5 north of the Carolinas is as rare as hen’s teeth… unless, of course, the sea is warming. Oops, that’s right, that only happens with climate change.

      • The construction cost, poor capacity factor, short lifespan and unpredictable reliability are enough to make this a bad investment. Hurricane damage will just be icing on the inedible cake.

        • Yes, big things are no longer in our future. Pipe dreams all. No more Hoover dams, no more Golden Gates, no more Trade Towers. We can’t do it. Leave it to others.
          https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/25/business/worlds-largest-wind-farm/index.html
          Let’s rest on our laurels.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Mr. Haner might be right. I always thought that the winds of the North Sea were off the charts. Sure enough it is windy nearly everyday but rarely above 30 knots. Virginia Beach and the off shore waters are very different. Hurricanes and those nasty winter Nor”Easters can produce catastrophic winds. I thought this was interesting. Scotland’s Hywind platform is a floating turbine not anchored to the sea bottom. Makes sense, more stable, and easier access for maintenance.
          https://www.equinor.com/en/what-we-do/floating-wind.html

          • James – don’t you think they have to be secured to the seabed?

            otherwise – they’d just float off , no?

            “Floating wind turbines are moored to the seabed with multiple mooring lines and anchors, in much the same way that a floating oil platform is moored”

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            Mr. Larry you are right. Scotland’s floating turbines are anchored but not bolted to the seabed on stilts like the VA Beach turbine.

  4. Another right wing, climate change denying. Jim this is getting so old.

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      I don’t know Mr. Peter. I don’t see any climate denying going on. Questioning the application of science and best practices is always a good thing. Perhaps Dominon has not adequatley factored in the parameters for marketable and effiecient energy production. As Clint Eastwood once said in a coffee shop. “We are not going to let you just walk out of here”.

  5. Has anyone who has credible bona fides estimated the cost per kilowatt for the entire 220 unit project over it’s estimated lifespan?

    How about the allocated cost per ratepayer or taxpayer for the capital costs?

    • The SCC has done so, and I have reported on it. You wouldn’t believe it if I wasted my time to explain it to you. I wasted two years trying to explain this to Virginia readers. They like being lied to. When electricity costs twice what it does now, it will be rounding error in my monthly budget. Why do I care about the rest of you?

      https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/with-high-cost-detailed-offshore-wind-support-fades/

      https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/clean-economy-law-not-so-green-very-expensive/

      • Steve, I agree this is a very expensive project relative to the status quo, but that begs the question if the status quo is the right baseline. It’s certainly the most practical measure we have since it’s today’s reality but that doesn’t mean it’s the correct measure to think about. If one doesn’t think carbon based fuels are bad (for more than just political reasons), then it’s the right baseline for that person to judge new technologies. But I’d ask, have we had overly cheap electricity at the expense of other things? What’s the true cost of carbon-based fuel resources from an environmental and human safety perspective? On the other hand, are we not willing, as a society, to pay more for the initial production of a new technology with the expectation it will get cheaper over time? We seem to be more than willing to pay for the next expensive bright shiny toy in healthcare and defense technology without even batting an eye, or even the next iPhone model for that matter, but because it’s “green” we collectively seem to find our religion at the cost and risk of offshore wind. Onshore wind and solar are now cheapest resources in the right places, but they are not ubiquitous. Dominion’s cancellation of the Atlantic pipeline exposes one of natural gas’ weaknesses, which is distribution constraints. So nothing is perfect, but a broad and deep portfolio of resources has to be better than where we are today.

  6. It wouldn’t be so bad if other countries were failing at this, but they’re not. They’re succeeding.

    NIH — “Not Invented Here”

  7. Other technical issues relate to the corrosion and erosion of the fragile and humongous fan blades, which certainly look majestic, but the speed of the blade tip is over 100 MPH which then must fight against water and ice droplets hitting hard on the surfaces and degrading performance.

    But the fix is in, Our universities are giving courses in off shore wind, coastal Virginia demands this, and Dems support it 1000%.

    I am not totally opposed to trying it but I wish US gov’t took control and gave large subsidy for the ultra high costs. Sort of like California got the Hoover Dam from US Gov’t, and then Ca. liberals bang us over the head for not matching California green-ness. Give me a Hoover Dam-equivalent too, then.

    • That subsidy is currently being used to build a wall, well, a fence really.

      Ooh, ooh…. that’s it! Put windmills on top of the wall. The wind generated by all those Latins hopping the wall will light Texas.

  8. So it seems to work in other countries – in that same corrosive environment, no?

    I can see the cost will be high for the first two but is it also high for the next 200?

  9. the interesting thing for Germany as well as California and New York and others is that the more expensive electricity is – the less is used.

    ?itok=o3EKh3Nl

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Mr. Larry I have an old fashioned whole house ventilator in my house. AC is used only on excessively hot days. This vintage piece of equipment has a fan blade that could fit on a B 17 bomber. I upgraded the motor and voltage regulator to modern efficiency. Nothing in my house is plugged in unless it is being used. You would be shocked at the amount of electricity wasted on a trickle drain. Dominion makes very little money off of the Whitehead’s.

      • James, I’ve seen houses with them but how do you deal with humidity?

        I’m also familiar with “swamp coolers” in regions with low humidity.

        you don’t have hot water? 😉 that’s one of the largest consumption -that and the fridge…

        we installed an on-demand water heater – runs on propane – and it is extremely efficient… basically it only heats the water you use.

        but we do have AC and it does run a lot……….and it does cost.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Mr. Larry the Whitehead’s have been in Virginia since 1636. We were born humid. That whole house fan really is something. It draws a draft that is so strong. All hot air gets circulated out. Even the attic which is under a 93 year tin roof painted black remains tolerable. To me tolerable is a 78 degrees. Above 80 indoors is just too hot. I have a tankless water heater. Runs on gas and burns only when in use. Before Sears went out of business i picked up their top shelf energy efficient fridge. For wash machine I have a Speed Queen commercial version. No dryer. We use the clothes line. We have a dishwasher. Rarely used. You can hand wash, dry, and reshelf your dishes in half the time of fooling around with a dishwasher.

          • well .. we sorta agree on the temp. 78 is about the limit but at a humidity of 70% – it would take some getting used to.

            Dishwaters save energy… I know, that seems counterintuitive but they do… you’ll use a lot more rinse water than the dishwasher will – at least with modern dishwashers.

            My grandad had the whole-house attic fan as well as a wood-fired boiler with a 4 foot register in the center hallway. You’d throw several logs into it at once then they would go for hours.

            One of the most important things – is a good porch with rockers and a swing …. and I miss it but not the outhouse.

          • James Wyatt Whitehead V

            Mr. Larry in Chatham, Virginia the epicenter of heat, humidity, and uranium we always slept on Grandfather Whitehead’s sleeping porch in the summer. Screened in side porch that rendered the most restful and peaceful sleep I have ever had. As for hand dish washing we use a rinse bucket to save on the water. I don’t let the Town of Warrenton get away with charging me on the water either. I have 4 50 gallon gutter cisterns to store runoff water from the roof to water the flowers and garden.

          • “sleeping porch” had fallen clean out of my vocabulary….

          • Steve Haner

            Up in the mountains in Bluefield the sleeping porch at my grandparents was a delightful place to spend the night…until they installed a bright street light on that side of the house….

  10. I know the liberals feel some white lies about cost are necessary to save the planet, but let me give you my personal guesstimates. TomH will dispute with many paragraphs, but his argument is designed to deflect focus on true costs.

    I would say nat gas costs Dominion maybe 2-3 cents to make (cheap at the moment), and we pay 12 cents on our electric bills (coals nukes added) and grid costs, profit margins etc.

    I believe offshore wind to be in at least 20 cents range just to make the power and get it to shore, given the extreme costs of offshore wind. And that’s before the overhead/grid costs get added in, but also before any federal tax credits (which ought to be significant to encourage trial of offshore wind).

    What the blue state elected officials want the public to believe is that, all renewable options are far cheaper than fossil fuels, and getting cheaper . So the public in general has no idea the high costs we are talking about here.

    So why should the public be concerned abut offshore wind, since the cost is near zero? Not really, but that is the popular perception.

  11. Several things to clear up here. Anyone who is familiar with offshore wind knows they are called wind generators. Windmills are used to grind grain or pump water.

    It is not appropriate to use onshore wind records at sea level to calculate the output of offshore wind generators. NN is correct, land sea breezes are usually most forceful when the temperature differential is greatest between the temperature of the land and the water – typically during summer and winter peaks.

    The top tip of the blades might be as much as 600 feet above sea level. Wind speed is much greater the higher off the surface that you get. Depending on the design, wind generators can generate with winds as slow as 8 mph. Current designs automatically feather the blades at high wind speeds to reduce over-speeding the generator and avoiding damage.

    Wind generation is usually not considered a peak reducer anyway. It usually has the most production at morning and evening and during the night. Periods of no wind cause no risk of a blackout. The author seems unfamiliar with how PJM works.

    TBill – gas combined cycle units produce energy for a total cost of about 5-7 cents per kWh, 2-3 cents would be just the current fuel costs, which will increase. Offshore wind bids are coming in at 5 cents per kWh for 2024-25. Both costs are exclusive of transmission costs, which would be higher for an underwater DC cable, but transmission costs are averaged for everyone.

    Putting the units in the ratebase would make Dominion’s cost higher.

    No production tax credits exist for wind anymore, although significant subsidies continue for fossil fuels.

  12. “No production tax credits exist for wind anymore….” Well, not exactly true, is it Tom? The two-turbine demonstration project made the deadline. The December 2019 tax bill extended the production tax credit into 2020. Will that be extended again? It seems to keep happening. Certainly the House would vote for that. But projects that start construction this year certainly qualify. Not sure how that massive Virginia project times out with this, but your claim “no credits exist” is a false statement.

    I assume that once built the projects enjoy the tax credits (transferable?) for years and years and years, so also a very false statement on that basis. I used to trust your information….

    In other countries, of course, the feed-in tariffs are enormous.

  13. As I read it, this article addressed the major offshore wind development project that will be built in the mid-2020s, therefore no currently authorized production tax credits exist for the project.

    You are correct in saying the credits do apply to the 12 MW pilot project, which began and completed construction while the credits were still in force, and used wind turbines quite different from those that will be used for the main project. As you say, the credits expire at the end of this year.

    Please continue your coverage regarding how GA legislation has authorized utility projects that will raise our energy costs by tens of billions of dollars over the next several decades. It is especially important, when the SCC has been mostly cut out of the process of determining if the costs are prudent – as was the case with the 12 MW offshore wind pilot project and the main offshore wind project.

    With the loss of the ACP and the sale of the gas assets, Dominion will be concentrating on reaping as much profit from their regulated utility as possible. A politically savvy reporter with knowledge of energy issues will be more important than ever.

    I will be spending less time commenting on energy issues and more time trying to help develop examples of modern energy projects. I don’t think the hazards of continuing to develop our energy system in the way it was done last century have been recognized. Those old patterns are intended to go at least until 2050 in Virginia. We will pay dearly for it.

    • You didn’t say, no tax credits exist for this project, you make the broad statement. It was not correct. And I think it’s a fair bet that Congress will extend wind credits forward and will also keep the benefits in place for solar. You would not bet against that, either. It is something that can draw plenty of Republican votes.

      Thank for the encouragement. I get it from different areas, some surprising. It is something that requires a major time commitment, too much of it spent sitting down. It will be interesting to see how Dom plays this cancellation to work it into the 2021 rate review, seeking to reap something from ratepayers. Clearly it now has major tax write-offs so the taxpayers will indirectly provide help with these sunk costs.

  14. I agree that the House will try and extend the renewable tax credits. The 10% credit for large-scale solar is still in force after 2021. Wind, solar, and energy efficiency are the biggest job producers in the energy sector. Lots of folks could use a job right now. The last two attempts failed, but that was under different circumstances.

    I would think the Republicans would support it for the jobs and economic growth. Hard to tell though. So much of our politics has become us vs. them, especially in an election year. It’s hard to find bipartisan agreement to do what is best for the nation.

    Wind and solar are still the cheapest without any subsidy. Especially, with non-ratebased projects. It might be time to remove subsidies from all energy sources, except maybe for the introduction of new technologies. Although, it is not the time to tick off major contributors. Some industries (nuclear, coal, oil and gas) would scream bloody murder.

  15. As an example. Forbes reports that $5.2 trillion was spent globally on fossil fuel subsidies in 2017. It was over 6.5% of global GDP that year.

    In 2015, the U.S.was the second largest subsidizer of fossil fuel ($649 billion) after China ($1.4 trillion). The amount the “US spent on these subsidies in 2015 is more than the country’s defense budget and 10 times the federal spending for education” according to the article.

    The global total increased by a half-trillion dollars in 2017. It’s probably higher now.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesellsmoor/2019/06/15/united-states-spend-ten-times-more-on-fossil-fuel-subsidies-than-education/#795fb3d14473

  16. “The problem is that this area frequently gets periods of a week or more when the wind is too low to generate any power.”

    I can attest to the fact that the area frequently gets periods of a week or more when the wind is too low to power a sailboat.

  17. Sorry to be so long getting here but I suddenly had a 547 page action plan to analyze. Here is my first take if anyone is interested:
    https://www.cfact.org/author/dwojick/

    Thank you all for interesting and informative comments. My brief reply follows.
    Low wind
    Yes it is often breezier offshore than onshore. But standard wind generators require sustained winds of 30+ mph to generate full power. Below 15 they generate little and almost none at 10.

    When Norfolk reads 5 mph or so for a week it cannot be blowing steadily at 30 mph just 30 miles away. I think 10 maybe about it. But I would love to see real data on this.

    Also, if the breeze is thermal due to hot air rising over land and cooler ocean air coming in to replace it that flow runs right over Norfolk.

    High wind
    If the towers are designed for 160 mph I would like to see the analyses. I used to do failure analysis for large dams.

    160 is the threshold for cat 5 so they are indeed playing chicken with cat 5, as I say in my article. Plus if that is a sustained wind that cat 4 storms can provide gusts that exceed 160 and gusts are the most likely mode of failure.

    Also, designs are just hopes until tested. Has this one been tested?

    • I wonder if they have considered the foundation rotating, rather than the tower snapping? This would leave a leaning tower, which would be useless and probably unfixable. After all, the tower is a very long lever trying to move the foundation. I am told that the torsion at the base increases with the fourth power of length. And of course there are wave loads in addition to wind loads.

    • Dr.Wojick, I appreciate your willingness to share your point of view about offshore wind in Virginia with Bacon’s Rebellion. Your PhD confers a certain amount of credibility. Given your academic background, it is disappointing that you did not do the research to accurately portray the situation with offshore wind in Virginia.

      You compare wind conditions in Norfolk with what will be experienced offshore. Wind speed is greatly affected by the altitude above the surface and the roughness of the surface over which it moves.

      Wind speed increases about 10% for every doubling of height. Ten percent greater wind speed results in about 30% greater energy production.

      If the wind speed in Norfolk ten feet off the ground was 10 mph, it would be 60% higher at 320 feet. The hub of the generator that will likely be used in Dominion’s 2556 MW offshore wind farm is about 400 feet above the surface. The tip of the highest blade would be over 700 feet above the surface. At 640 feet, the wind speed would be 77% greater than at 10 feet above the surface, and would generate more power.

      Wind speed over land is greatly reduced because of the roughness of the surface that causes a reduction of 40%-50% of the wind speed aloft. Wind speed is a logarithmic function of the height above ground. Part of this function includes a factor for the roughness of the surface. Here are the differences in the factor for various surfaces:

      Calm open sea 0.0002
      Blown sea 0.0005
      Fallow field 0.03
      Woodlands 0.5
      Suburbs 1.5
      City buildings 3.0

      You can see that under similar meteorological conditions, wind speeds offshore at turbine height would be much greater than what would be experienced in Norfolk. Years of wind speed data were analyzed by federal agencies. For cost-effective wind generation the average wind speed should be at least 14.3-15.7 mph. This is greater than what it is in Norfolk. This average wind speed would generate 300-400 watts per square meter swept by the turbine blades.

      The winds measured by surface buoys offshore of Virginia averaged 17.9-19.7 mph, generating 600-800 watts per square meter. Wind speeds at turbine height and the energy generated would be much greater. The 108-meter blades of Gamesa’s 14 MW units sweep an area of almost 10 acres.
      Siemens Gamesa pioneered the offshore wind industry in 1991. Since then, they have installed 4,149 offshore wind turbines, totaling 15,780 MW of capacity, with a 70% share of the market.

      Two 6 MW turbines recently went into service at the edge of the federal leases intended for the large facility. Over 5 years of data will be collected before the first phase of 852 MW of offshore wind generators begin operation in 2026.

  18. The low cost of wind power when the wind is blowing hard is largely irrelevant to the economics. There must be generating capacity on hand to generate when the wind is not blowing hard, which is pretty frequently offshore Virginia. The cost of that generating capacity is part of the cost of the wind energy.

    Batteries are not feasible for this function. The world’s biggest backup batteries only do 20 minutes for their wind farm. Seven days is a lot of minutes. At today’s prices the batteries would cost well over a hundred times what the wind farm cost, if we could even get that many batteries to work together.

    • Hurricanes are an important design consideration. But offshore wind units have been operating in extreme conditions encountered in the North Sea and the Baltic. New designs are under development specifically for the periodic high winds on the U.S. east coast.

      The 75-meter Gamesa blades travel at 180 mph now. The speed at the tip of the 108-meter blades will be much higher. Their generators are designed to shut down automatically in winds above 56 mph. The 14 MW unit has a feature that will gradually reduce power output beginning at 56 mph to extract more energy from higher wind speeds, without damaging the unit.

  19. You were very misleading claiming that when the wind doesn’t blow there will be a blackout. Virginia has an excess of generating capacity and a huge and growing surplus exists in the PJM region, of which Virginia is a part.

    The offshore wind turbines are expected to operate 42% of the possible hours. Their marginal cost of operation is very low, since there is no fuel cost. When they are generating they will displace older, more expensive gas, coal, and oil-fired units. When the wind is not blowing, the existing units will operate as they are doing now. No extra costs need to be attached to the cost of wind energy for backup power. We have what we need especially since demand has been set back and might take a number of years to recover. Demand was stable for a decade after the last recession.

    You have mischaracterized the current status of utility-scale batteries. They have a four hour-discharge capability at full power, not 20 minutes, as you claimed. That’s about the same as what the Bath Pumped Storage facility will do. Utility-scale batteries will be available at the end of this year for $250 /MWh. That is not 100 times the cost of the $8 billion wind project.

    Batteries will be useful, but not required for some time. We have an abundance of conventional generation to cover variations in renewable output.

Leave a Reply