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Dirty Secret Behind Wind Turbines, They Need Lots Of Oil

Dirty Secret Behind Wind Turbines, They Need Lots Of Oil thumbnail

Offshore wind turbines may generate green energy, but they use a lot more oil than proponents like to admit.

Just installing the foundation of a single offshore turbine can consume 18,857 barrels of marine fuel during construction, according to calculations published by Forbes Wednesday. Offshore wind farms often have over 100 wind turbines, meaning that building them requires almost 2 million barrels of fuel just to power the ships involved in construction.

“You can’t even construct or operate offshore wind turbines without oil,” Chris Warren, a spokesman for the free-market Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “For decades, we have been told that wind, solar, and other so-called ‘green’ sources are the future, and yet these sources remain expensive, intermittent, and unreliable despite government mandates and subsidies. Offshore wind in particular remains one of the most expensive sources of electricity that exists.”

The Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Collaborative will cost $1 billion dollar to build and generate roughly 200 megawatts of electricity, enough to provide power to between 40,000 and 64,000 homes — depending on how much the wind blows over the course of the year.

The wind farm’s power will cost around $25,000 for every home it powers, according to Daily Caller News Foundation calculations.  The first American offshore wind farm in Block Island, Rhode Island will cost $17,600 dollars per home it powers.

The extremely high cost of offshore wind apparently doesn’t worry environmentalists and progressives because, as says about the project, “it’s the precedent that counts.” The costs attributed to both the Block Island and the Long Island wind farms are just to build the turbines, not to operate them.

Despite the extremely high cost, federal officials want to power a whopping 23 million homes with offshore wind by the year 2050. Offshore wind is so pricey that early investors, like Germany, plan to stop building new turbines to lower the costs of electricity and prop up the existing power grid.

Offshore wind power is so expensive because installing and maintaining any kind of infrastructure on the water is extremely difficult. The salt water of the ocean is incredibly corrosive and makes operating such facilities difficult and expensive. Electricity is so comparatively cheap in most parts of the country that offshore wind isn’t generally necessary.

Daily Caller

30 Comments on "Dirty Secret Behind Wind Turbines, They Need Lots Of Oil"

  1. Rockman on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 8:27 am 

    Of course it takes a lot of energy to install offshore structure weighing million of pounds. Dah. Same true for oil producing platforms. But that does not determine the economics viability of such projects. What does determine that economic viability? The economics do. Again, dah.

    But based upon the numbers present the economics look questionable.

  2. Rob on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 8:41 am 

    You can’t feed billions of people without oil. What is the point here? At least with these turbines you MAKE energy back after a certain time and then its just money in the bank (minus when the wind isn’t blowing). Everything we do requires energy. I suppose you could convert the whole process to gas powered equipment, propane, even coal? Long extension cords? Oil is just convenient/cheap.

  3. Cloggie on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 8:43 am 

    Just installing the foundation of a single offshore turbine can consume 18,857 barrels of marine fuel during construction

    Big deal:

    During a 25 year life span the turbine (in the North Sea) will generate 800,000 barrel oil equivalent of (high grade) electricity.

    For the rest I don’t believe for a minute that this kind of specialized equipment will require 18,857 barrel of oil to ram a monopile into the sea bed in a matter of a few hours:

    Both the Dutch and Germans (and meanwhile perhaps others) have these kind of equipment.

  4. Ghung on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 9:47 am 

    Dirty secret behind nuclear, hydro, natural gas, coal-fired, solar, geo-thermal electrical generation: They also require a lot of oil for construction and ongoing maintenance. Name something that doesn’t.

  5. Midnight Oil on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 9:53 am 

    What about the BIRDS…they forgot Bout the damn BIRDS…stupid things are killed by them!
    Besides the Kennedy’s storefront mansion in Hiatus clashes with scenic view.
    Now, all the other objections are trivial.

  6. Jerry McManus on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 9:55 am 

    it’s the precedent that counts

    Just when you thought the “renewable” idiots couldn’t get any more stupid than they already are.

    Of course, in the years ahead as those multi-ton and multi-billon dollar boondoggles sit rusting in the rain, their carbon-fiber laminate blades long since ripped to shreds, I’m sure the “renewable” idiots will stuff their heads just a little further up their prius looking for that golden excuse why it all would have worked beautifully, if only…

  7. Ghung on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 10:07 am 

    Of course, in the years ahead as those multi-ton and multi-billon dollar boondoggles sit rusting in the rain, leaking their radiation as their cooling ponds boil away, while giant hydro dams begin to degrade and fail, wiping out the communities and infrastructure below, even as the coal plant brown sites leach their effluent into drinking water sources nationwide and their waste retention ponds fail catastrophically rendering the land below unusable for decades…..

    Yeah, Jerry, we can do this all day.

  8. JN2 on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 10:30 am 

    Cloggie, the blog you quote uses a 100% capacity factor for wind. Highest annual average I’ve seen is 47%.

    But 25 years is still 375,000 barrels of oil, even at 47%…

  9. tahoe1780 on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 11:13 am 

    Just curious. What fraction of a barrel of oil does “marine fuel” equate to? i.e., does it take 36,000 barrels of oil to make 18,000 barrels of marine fuel? Anybody know how many trips out to the farm each year to maintain the installation?

  10. Cloggie on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 11:22 am 

    Cloggie, the blog you quote uses a 100% capacity factor for wind. Highest annual average I’ve seen is 47%.

    It’s my blog. You are right about capacity factor:

    On the other hand, a 25 year life span is VERY conservative. This may apply for the monopile in the sea bed, but why has the tower to be written off after 25 years? The Eiffel tower exists for 130 years already and according to engineers can easily survive another 2 centuries. If you add, say 50 years to the life span of the tower, the energy gain /EROEI looks completely different.
    Anecdotal “evidence” of wind energy longevity: the oldest windmill in the Netherlands, build long before America was ever heard off (1441 or older), still working fine (maintenance is everything). Open and working every Wednesday in Zeddam.

    Sometimes windmills last much longer than anybody held possible.

  11. drwater on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 11:27 am 

    Cloggie said: “For the rest I don’t believe for a minute that this kind of specialized equipment will require 18,857 barrel of oil to ram a monopile into the sea bed in a matter of a few hours:

    Now I know why you Dutch guys have been considered the maritime geniuses for centuries.

  12. Apneaman on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 12:33 pm 

    Germany’s Electricity Was Nearly 10 Times Dirtier than France’s in 2016

  13. Go Speed Racer on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 12:44 pm 

    The wires are hooked up wrong.
    Change the phasing so they run
    as motors, not generators.

    Then a row of those make great big fans,
    and blow all the smoke out of Hong Kong.

  14. Rockman on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 2:17 pm 

    Tahoe – “What fraction of a barrel of oil does “marine fuel” equate to?” Of course it varies with the specific oil but diesel yields run round 20-25%. Of course they don’t throw the rest away.

    As far as consumption goes I don’t know if those estimates are close but offshore service vessels, especially heavy lifters, are fuel guzzlers.

    Of course there’s no need to spend all that fuel and capex on offshore turbines…just build them on the shore line like we have in Texas. Such as this one near Corpus Christi along our southern coast:

    “The Papalote Creek Wind Farm near Taft, Texas in San Patricio County is an array of 196 wind turbines that can produce 380 megawatts of power, enough to serve approximately 114,000 homes. The wind farm was built and is operated by E.ON Climate and Renewables North America. The first phase of 109 Vestas 1.65 megawatt turbines came on line in the fall of 2009. The second phase of 87 Siemens 2.3 megawatt turbines came on line in winter 2010. .

    The majority of the electricity generated is sold to the Lower Colorado River Authority and CPS Energy which is owned by the City of San Antonio. The land for the wind farm is privately owned and leased to E.ON. The lease agreement allows for other uses of the land such as farming and ranching. The wind farm has added more than $500 million in value to the property tax base.”

    Of course while some folks might not like to see such equipment along their coast it’s not much of a hindrance to most Texans. After all, sitting on the beach looking out on the Gulf waters you can’t see the turbines because they are behind your back. I would imagine there are more then a few land owners along the east coast that wouldn’t mind getting the 10’s of $millions in lease fees Texas land owners are getting. Likewise some counties might like taxing 1/2 $BILLION (or more) of new properties.

    But when the local politics are controlled by TPTB this is what happens.

  15. BobInget on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 2:29 pm 

    With a strong telescope a person can watch maintenance people clime 400 feet to the tower top backpacking cans of WD 40, the secret, until now, lubricant of wind power.

  16. Sissyfuss on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 6:37 pm 

    Does anybody know how survivable these machines are to a cat 4 or 5 storm. What do they do as prep if anything. Sure can’t remove the blades.

  17. makati1 on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 6:47 pm 

    Shhh, Sissyfuss. You are not supposed to ask real questions like that. I suspect that the blades will just contract into the tower … or some other fictitious idea. We couldn’t have them flying thru the air at 100+ miles per hour and slamming into a building could we? Maybe we will soon find out?

  18. BobInget on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 7:02 pm 

    Variabile pitch.

  19. makati1 on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 7:37 pm 

    Bob, I don’t think that would mean much in a 200 mph wind. ANY resistance would be the destruction of the tower.

  20. makati1 on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 7:42 pm 

    BTW: Typhoon Yolanda 2013: “The Hong Kong Observatory put the storm’s maximum ten-minute sustained winds at 285 km/h (180 mph)[5] prior to landfall in the central Philippines, while the China Meteorological Administration estimated the maximum two-minute sustained winds at the time to be around 78 m/s (280 km/h or 175 mph). At the same time, the JTWC estimated the system’s one-minute sustained winds to 315 km/h (195 mph),..”

    I don’t think any wind tower is going to survive a Cat.5. If the tower survives, the blades won’t. End of story.

  21. rockman on Sat, 4th Mar 2017 11:12 pm 

    sissy – “Does anybody know how survivable these machines are to a cat 4 or 5 storm”. I would imagine as survivable as an offshore oil platform or mobile drill rig. And lesser storms have beaten the crap out of some of them.

  22. Go Speed Racer on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 1:04 am 

    Windmills are flawlessly perfect and
    can never malfunction.

    Here is proof:

    Also a windmill puts out almost as much power
    as a couch and mattress fire, and about the same amount of black smoke, just watch the video.

  23. joe on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 1:15 am 

    Watch how the engineers come to fix these pointless hopium monoliths in their oil powered trucks and cranes, how many windmills does it take to fix a windmill?

  24. makati1 on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 3:59 am 

    Or to keep the roads repaired to access them. Or to feed the maintenance people. Or pay their salaries? Or make the repair parts? Or…? You are not supposed to think, just believe.

  25. Davy on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 6:14 am 

    Wind power is a great technology and will be a significant resource for those places who invest wisely in it. I need only look around the entire globe to see blatant malinvestment in behaviors and attitudes of infrastructure without a future. Skyscrapers and factories producing nothing of use are a great one. Chinese ghost cities and sports stadiums all major cities have are another. The entire cruise ship industry is a waste. In fact let’s ask ourselves how much of anything in modern life is really useful and count backwards. Wind power is so much more important than most of this useless stuff. So what is this discussion about? Why not talk about all that other stuff we have little use for riding our modern train to the brick wall of collapse.

  26. Boat on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 9:43 am 


    Siemens claims their fleet of turbines have ROI of under a year. Most of them around 10 months. Your complaints are blown away.

  27. Ghung on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 10:01 am 

    “Does anybody know how survivable these machines are to a cat 4 or 5 storm. What do they do as prep if anything. Sure can’t remove the blades.”

    About as survivable as nuke plants are to tsunamis, without the trillion dollar+ costs to clean up the mess.

  28. Ghung on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 10:20 am 

    “Wind turbines aren’t perfect. Perhaps one of the most widely shared pictures in December of 2011 and early 2012 was this one from the Ardrossan wind farm in Scotland during a wind storm where the wind velocity reached 161 mph (260 kph). One of the thirteen wind turbines had a problem with its hurricane mode and failed spectacularly. The rest were online shortly after the wind died, unlike the Hunterston Nuclear Reactor, which was offline for 54 hours after power lines to it blew down, leaving thousands of Scots freezing in the dark.”

    161 MPH wind speeds and an over 90% survival rate; 100% survival of units that were in “hurricane mode”.

  29. BobInget on Sun, 5th Mar 2017 12:22 pm 

    (Variable pitch)

    The first practical controllable-pitch propeller for aircraft was introduced in 1932.[5] French firm Ratier pioneered variable-pitch propellers of various designs from 1928 onwards, relying on a special ball bearing helicoïdal ramp at the root of the blades for easy operation.

    Several designs were tried, including a small bladder of pressurized air in the propeller hub providing the necessary force to resist a spring that would drive the blades from fine pitch (take-off) to coarse pitch (level cruising). At a suitable airspeed a disk on the front of the spinner would press sufficiently on the bladder’s air-release valve to relieve the pressure and allow the spring to drive the propeller to coarse pitch. These “pneumatic” propellers were fitted on the DH88 Comet aircraft, winner of the famed long distance 1934 Mac Robertson race and in the Caudron C.460 winner of the 1936 National Air Races, flown by Michel Detroyat. Use of these pneumatic propellers required presetting the propeller to fine pitch prior to take-off. This was done by pressurizing the bladder with a bicycle pump, hence the whimsical nickname Gonfleurs d’hélices (prop inflater boy) given to the aircraft ground mechanics in France up to this day.[6]

    Such propellers are used in propeller-driven aircraft to adapt the propeller to different thrust levels and air speeds so that the propeller blades don’t stall, hence degrading the propulsion system’s efficiency. Especially for cruising, the engine can operate in its most economical range of rotational speeds. With the exception of going into reverse for braking after touch-down, the pitch is usually controlled automatically without the pilot’s intervention. A propeller with a controller that adjusts the blade pitch so that the rotational speed always stays the same is called a constant-speed propeller. A propeller with controllable pitch can have a nearly constant efficiency over a range of airspeeds.[7]


    Furling works by decreasing the angle of attack, which reduces the induced drag from the lift of the rotor, as well as the cross-section. One major problem in designing wind turbines is getting the blades to stall or furl quickly enough should a gust of wind cause sudden acceleration. A fully furled turbine blade, when stopped, has the edge of the blade facing into the wind.

  30. Brazilian guy on Wed, 8th Mar 2017 9:36 am 

    Everything needs oil to build.
    The question that matters is:
    Someone is building it with his own money or it is only built with “subsidised” government money?
    In the first case, probably it´s something that make sense, because people don´t like to lose his own money. In the second case, who cares?

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