Monday, 24 October 2011

'The Wind Gives and the Wind Takes'

Alpha Ventus is currently the largest wind farm to be built under open-sea conditions. It is situated in the North Sea off the coast of Germany.

The Spiegel has an informative article on Germany's offshore wind turbine industry and in particular details of the installation of Alpha Ventus.  The base elements, which are as tall as buildings, were welded together in Scotland and Norway.  The tubes in the seafloor came from Rostock in north eastern Germany, the transformers from Regensburg in Bavaria and the rotor blade from Bremerhaven and Stade, near Hamburg.

Notice anything? As Alex Salmond remarked in his speech at the SNP conference on Saturday, it's a sad state of affairs when Scotland can't afford to develop and produce its own turbines and has to rely upon foreign companies for supplies.  The decision to bring Longannet to an abrupt halt is a massive blow to the fledgling offshore renewable industry and a decision which appears to have been taken for political rather than practical reasons.

Germany, like Scotland, has made a bet it can't afford to lose when it decided to at least partially replace nuclear with wind energy. But offshore energy production is an expensive business and each individual plant currently requires about 450 maintenance hours a year - far too much according to Ralf Klooster who is the supervising technician for an Alpha Ventus maintenance team.  The amount of time his ship's crew can work in a single stretch will be reduced to 10 hours soon and when that happens two crews will be needed for maintenance.  Costs will increase. Says Klooster: "They're not as strict about this in England."  I wonder if that also applies to Scotland.

The Spiegel article is written by a journalist who spent a day with Klooster and his team.  It certainly gives an insight into the offshore wind turbine industry.  A worthwhile read.


petem130 said...

Everyone seems to be in the same boat with the global warming scam. If people believe it's real then carbon capture, windmills and wave/tidal power make sense. It's a free country still to a degree and if people want to follow that route then they should. As long as they fund and pay for it.

Longannet might have produced a workable system for carbon capture but then again it might not have and why they would want to is beyond me.

The manufacturers of the various components for wind turbines etc. never seem to be based within the county which is installing them. Obamas attempts show the folly of throwing money at developing your own.

Even if global warming were real we just can't afford this stuff at the moment. If there is money floating around for global warming projects lets have one very son to help our old people adequately heat their homes.

subrosa said...

No we can't afford it Petem but that won't stand in the way of those who are making millions.

Germany seems to be able to produce much of their own wind farms. We have to use foreign companies because we no longer have the skills (or motivation perhaps) to manufacture ourselves.

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