November 24, 2011
Dutch Losing Their Love Of Wind Power

Cost, noise, and ruination of scenic views are among the reasons windmills are losing their attraction in the Netherlands.

Arguments over the high cost and maintenance of sea-based turbines, as well as complaints from residents about unsightly land-based models, have brought the Dutch to an impasse.

Offshore wind farms produce more electricity than onshore ones but it costs twice as much as onshore wind power due to the higher cost of materials, more expensive drilling methods, and more complex maintenance.

The Netherlands is a densely populated country. The United States can much more easily build lots of wind farms across the plains states without encroaching on the lives of a large number of people. The Dutch can only do that my building offshore. But offshore wind power costs twice as much.

The continued financial crisis and resulting fiscal austerity in many European countries has undermined political support for renewable energy subsidies. For example, Germany's Economy Ministry has just proposed a large reduction in solar subsidies. While solar panel prices are already down 30% in 2011 demand cuts due to slashing of subsidies could result in much lower prices in 2012. Will the same happen for wind? Or will the wind turbine makers just slash production?

Spain's new government, under heavy pressure from high bond interest rates, may entirely eliminate solar and wind power subsidies. It is hard to see how the Southern European countries can afford to continue any renewable energy subsidies. This may lead to even lower prices for photovoltaics. If you are thinking about putting PV on your house you might want to wait for even cheaper prices next year.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 November 24 09:12 PM  Energy Policy

Hans Schliesserman said at November 25, 2011 10:51 AM:

Well that leaves more wind and solar power for the rest of us, then. Thank you for going under, Europe. You are making the rest of the world greener, leaner, and meaner. As for EU-ro and your predicament, you should have taken a lesson from Yugoslavia, and not have tried to put together something that couldn't last.

PacRim Jim said at November 25, 2011 11:16 AM:

How about piezoelectric floors that convert steps into electricity. Put them in malls, sidewalks, etc.

PaulR said at November 27, 2011 9:24 AM:

How in the hell is removing a government subsidy supposed to make PV panels cheaper? Loss of subsidy and decrease in volume of new installations ought to cause costs to increase.

Michael Caton said at November 30, 2011 12:19 PM:

California has a few spots with wind turbines and currently they generate 1.3% of our power. That doesn't sound impressive but that's for ~37 million people running a lot of lights and computers. On the other hand, I've always wondered why private enterprises don't get more serious about solar. Desert land is comparatively cheap, electricity is not going to drop in value any time soon, and it doesn't take much to maintain a solar field. Seems that the desert states in the American Southwest could pay for future water by building such grids.

John Moore said at December 1, 2011 7:07 PM:

Go out to the big island of Hawaii of drive to South Point. Near there, in an area with so much wind that the trees are permanently bent over, you will find an extinct, rusting wind farm. If it can't pay for itself there, in a place with very high fuel costs, it ain't gonna work.

There are currently 14,000 abandoned wind generators in the US. In the future, there will be a lot more. Dead wind farms will be the rural blight of the future.

As for people affected, spend some time in the midwest and you will see that there are plenty of people out there, and plenty more driving through. The wind farms are a blight on otherwise very pretty scenery.

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