Wind Turbines Unprofitable

https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/wind-turbine-makers-…

“Vestas (VWS.CO), GE Renewable Energy (GE.N) and Siemens Gamesa (SGREN.MC), which control 70% of the market outside China, all reported wider losses for the first three months of 2022.”

Steel prices are up 40% in Europe due to the war and rising energy costs. Some say modern steel is made from pig iron imported from Russia. Companies that are not vertically integrated are hurting.

Plus zero carbon steel (presumably from hydrogen instead of coke) may well be more costly.

Turbine suppliers are having trouble passing through cost increases. This seems to give turbines from China made with dirty steel an added advantage.

The same problem is hitting natgas combined cycle power plants and every other industry using steel.

Jaak

The economically and environmental sound answer is hydro-electric generation.
Rich (haywool)

The economically and environmental sound answer is hydro-electric generation.

The Washington Post has an article noting that of the 90,000 dams currently in the US, less than 2% are configured to produce hydro power, and that a significant fraction more could be.

Yes, there are some environmental concerns, and yes, some of them are no longer necessary, but there is a vast untapped energy resource we’re just frittering away for no good reason.

Giving old dams new life could spark an energy boom

This is good news for existing hydropower in those regions, but it also benefits a growing effort to retrofit so-called nonpowered dams, or any dams created for a need other than hydropower, for electricity production. The effort received support in last year’s landmark infrastructure law, which provided $2.3 billion in dam funding and $753 million that will go toward dam safety and environmental improvements, as well as adding hydropower to nonpowered dams.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/2022/05/06/…

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There are dams with locks all along the Mississippi River for barge traffic. Only the one in Keokuk,IA (operated by Ameren) is equipped for hydro power.

If we are serious about clean energy we could do much more!!!

The economically and environmental sound answer is hydro-electric generation.
Rich (haywool)

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Well there are lots of problems environmental with big dams which cost lots of money.

How do you rationalize your conclusion? Any links?

Jaak

1 Like

Well there are lots of problems environmental with big dams which cost lots of money.
How do you rationalize your conclusion? Any links?

Well, the link in this thread to the story in WaPo would be a start. As it points out there are around 90,000 dams in the country, and about 2,000 which produce power. Some of those dams are now superfluous, but most aren’t.

More to the point, a reasonably large number of them could be retrofitted to produce power, particularly for micro grids serving neighborhoods or small cities obviating the need to build new fossil plants in those locales. For many of the dams putting generating capability would be relatively trivial, as they already spill water when they get to a certain height anyway.

So while the dam is serving some other purpose (flood control, producing a reservoir, recreational area, etc.) we are just throwing away the energy that could be produced by it. Why weren’t they built that way in the first place?

Cheap oil. Hydro is more reliable than wind, more constant than solar, and except for the initial build (which will last longer than either turbines or solar farms) has a smaller carbon footprint than most other sources.

1 Like

Well, the link in this thread to the story in WaPo would be a start. As it points out there are around 90,000 dams in the country, and about 2,000 which produce power. Some of those dams are now superfluous, but most aren’t.

More to the point, a reasonably large number of them could be retrofitted to produce power, particularly for micro grids serving neighborhoods or small cities obviating the need to build new fossil plants in those locales. For many of the dams putting generating capability would be relatively trivial, as they already spill water when they get to a certain height anyway.

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I was looking for numbers on the economics of retrofitting old dams. If the cost of the retrofit is lower than the revenue made from generation of electricity over X years. In other words, what is the return on investment (ROI) for the retrofit. Each dam is unique - but a state government would not approve such a retrofit without a cost estimate

Jaak.

1 Like

"So while the dam is serving some other purpose (flood control, producing a reservoir, recreational area, etc.) we are just throwing away the energy that could be produced by it. Why weren’t they built that way in the first place?

Cheap oil. Hydro is more reliable than wind, more constant than solar, and except for the initial build (which will last longer than either turbines or solar farms) has a smaller carbon footprint than most other sources."

There were thousands of small dams that generated power. Mostly built a LONG time ago and they served small ‘cities’ at the time. Now that output is trivial.

Many dams have been ‘eliminated’ by those seeking to return rivers to ‘their natural state’.

Hydropower has it’s problems with frozen lakes, lack of enough water flow, too much water flow, stuff blocking the intakes, etc.

Just like there there tens of thousands of ‘grist mills’ using water power, and entire industries back east built on rivers to use water power to run all the machinery… one by one they got replaced by fossil fuel and steam engines… more reliable. When commercial A/C power came along, they converted to electricity. Go back east and there are thousands of factories (or what used to be factories) along rivers that were centers of manufacturing.

Unless you have good year round water flow (big river), hydropower can be a problem. Not every river is Niagara Falls or the Columbia River.

Heck, even Lake Mead is going to get to the point in a few years where it won’t generate any power - no rainfall…lake down a couple hundred feet already and dropping month by month. Hoover Dam might be ‘out of juice’ soon.

Meanwhile, out west, ‘conservationists’ are seeking to remove dam after dam. Let the salmon run. Who worries about floods?

Is there enough water flow at most dams to generate significant hydro? It really depends upon the ‘head’. You need hundreds of feet and large water flow to generate much power. A few KW or 10s of KWs is nothing.

"The power output of a dam is calculated using the potential energy of the water and can be found using the following hydropower formula:

P = ? * ? * g * h * Q

where:

P is the power output, measured in Watts
? is the efficiency of the turbine
? is the density of water, taken as 998 kg/m³ (you can change it in advanced mode)
g is the acceleration of gravity, equal to 9.81 m/s² (you can change it in advanced mode)
h is the head, or the usable fall height, expressed in units of length (meters or feet)
Q is the discharge (also called the flow rate), calculated as Q = A * v
A is the cross-sectional area of the channel
v is the flow velocity

https://www.omnicalculator.com/ecology/hydroelectric-power

t

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Hydro is more reliable than wind, more constant than solar,…

And as Putin’s war has shown, for the Europeans, the access to renewable energy can be more dependable than oil or gas plus for them and for the rest of the world, at $100+/barrel for oil, cheaper.

OTFoolish

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In our state a lot of older dams have been taken out as the original retaining ponds have filled with silt and become mosquito breeding pools. The rivers below the dams where getting filled with weeds and debris due to slower water flow and the natural fish runs either disappeared or became too small to matter. Finally the cost of maintenance and repairs became too expensive with a couple of occasions of flooding and dam failures as when the original owners of the mills went out of business the costs passed to the towns, cities and states.

OTfoolish

P.S. The next town over now has bald eagles and ospreys back on their river because of a dam removal and the return of the fish.

2 Likes

“Hydro is more reliable than wind, more constant than solar,…”

tell that to the folks around Lake Mead and in CA who face major power cutbacks as reservoirs dry up from lack of rainfall.

Sure, up ‘north’ in WA and Canada, with lots of precipitation, it is likely more reliable…but…CA is not the place to be depending upon hydro… they depend upon hydro from OR and WA…

Hydro in TX? Gimme a break… the Red River much of the year is a trickle. If it weren’t for Lake Texoma - 32 miles long - that captures the run off from downpours… you wouldn’t even have that hydro power in TX/OK.

there isn’t enough altitude difference most places to generate significant water power in 85% of the area of the country.

t.