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Analysis of LEEDCO Icebreaker Project – Do wind watts really work??

September 29, 2013
Do wind watts really work??

Do wind watts really work??

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCO) is proposing a trial project named Icebreaker, which entails placing 6 Siemens 3.0 MW direct drive wind turbines offshore of Cleveland, OH, in Lake Erie.  Please refer to this Cleveland Plain Dealer article on the subject, and also this WKSU report.

An analysis of the proposal is attached here ( Icebreaker Turbine Analysis ) , and indicates some very unflattering realities about the proposal:

  • Total annual energy output from the 6 Siemens wind turbines can be expected to be approximately 64,168 MWh, assuming 90% uptime.
  • Payback of the initial investment of $127,000,000 (as reported by WKSU) will never happen.  Over $57,000,000 will remain unpaid after 25 years.
  • Spending the same money on closed cycle gas turbine (CCGT) generation would provide 13 times more electricity and, at the same time, eliminate more than 6 times more CO2 emissions.

Additional Considerations:

  • These economic analyses do not account for the cost that will be incurred to maintain and operate a traditional back-up system for generating power when the wind is not blowing adequately, and for the added cost and inefficiency of cycling this back-up system on and off to balance the supply load against the variability of the wind generated power.
  • These analyses are presented for a 25 year period, although it is becoming evident that the useful life of many wind turbines is less than 20 years, and sometimes as little as 10 to 15 years. Siemens estimates the life of the SW-3.0-101 to be 20 years.
  • Any supposed reductions in dependency on conventional power generation and any reductions in associated levels of pollution, attributed to use of wind power generation, are highly suspect; because of the need to maintain and operate the back-up systems in an inefficient manner.
  • The lowest wind conditions and the lowest power output will occur in the summer, when the electricity demand is highest.
  • Despite their supposed presentation as power sources for average everyday power needs, wind turbine projects are often granted special Power Purchasing Agreements (PPAs) which allow prices for their electricity that are many times higher than average wholesale price.  It is disconcerting that a large portion of the feasibility studies and the on-going discussion are often devoted to proposals to make the projects appear viable with public spending and it is evident that, to make these projects work, massive government subsidies and large increases in the cost paid for electricity will be required to offset the investment losses and attract investors.

Once again, other than the damage to the economy of the waste itself, the real problem with mandating and subsidizing non-viable energy technology projects is that this distracts us and diverts resources from other efforts to improve our energy production strategy.  Unfortunately, some of the arguments used to justify the mandates and subsidies are more political and emotional than logical.

There is no doubt that we in the USA need to alter our energy strategy. The question of how we will change it, however, needs to be determined by scientific evaluation of fact and logical analysis of performance and economics; not by emotion, political considerations, and “feel good” methodologies.

  1. Ralph Sylvestersen (sherab rabsal) permalink

    Thank uou for sharing your view and insight on this matter. Absolutly right, we need to alter our energy strategy. Years back I wrote on that issue in Denmark,

  2. We have over 1200 of the stupid things, on land, here in Ontario, Canada. What a disaster.
    The turbines are currently running at 8% of their possible output. Because there is no wind. Just like most of the summer. Contributing 1% to Ontario’s generation needs. They are 2-3 megawatt turbines just like ones that will go in the lake.
    Total demand: 17906 MW (9:00 PM EDT – Sep. 30, 2013)
    Total generation: 17630 MW (Sep. 30 – 19:00-20:00)
    Generation shortfall: 276 MW
    Wind production: 178 MW (8.71% of capacity)
    WIND: 1% of demand, 1% of generation, 64.5% of gen. shortfall

    Here is some pictures of what our countryside looks like

    The Great Lakes Fishery Commission

    The Public Trust Doctrine

    The public trust doctrine is a legal principle derived from English common law.
    The essence of the doctrine is that the waters of the state or province are a public resource owned by and available to all citizens equally for navigation, commerce, fishing, recreation, and similar uses. The public retains its rights under the public trust doctrine even when the land at issue is privately owned.

    All Great Lakes bottomlands (meaning the lakes) are held in public trust.

    Protect the Great Lakes forever

    • David – Thank you also for reading and commenting. I will take a look at the information at your links.

  3. Jerry…. I read your article, “Economics and Performance – The Primary Deficiencies of Wind Power” where you breakdown the ROI or long term economics on 3 different Wind Farms in the U.S. According to your analysis, you show that Wind Farms don’t generate enough revenue to pay back the investment. Do you think this is true with most Wind Farms in the United States?


    • Steve – Thanks for reading and commenting. I cannot make a blanket statement regarding all wind turbine applications everywhere. The ones I have analyzed, particularly in Ohio, demonstrate very bad economic performance, and are only viable because the government has used taxpayer dollars to prop them up. This is due to the intermittent and non-dense nature of wind energy. There may be applications somewhere in the USA that make sense, but I have not found them; and in general there are much better ways to spend our money to improve our energy strategy. We can generate far more reliable dense energy and, at the same time, reduce our emissions of CO2 and other real pollutants much more effectively in other ways.

      • Steve permalink


        Thanks for your reply and your answer made a great deal of sense. I have gone over many of your cash flow analysis on many of the Wind and Solar projects and I can see that just about all can’t pay for themselves… even when you are conservative with your figures.

        I have a site called the where I discuss how energy will impact the precious metals, mining and overall economy. I am probably one of the few that has actually done declining ore grade and yield studies on the top gold and silver miners.

        The Mining industry is just as clueless about the upcoming energy issues as those you write about who think being GREEN is the way to go even though the financials suck. Anyhow, I would like to be able to ask you a few more questions or even chat on the phone if possible about the wind and solar industry.

        You should have my email address and if you wouldn’t mind, it would be great to pick your brain on some items in the alternative energy industry.

        best regards,


        On Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 6:13 PM, Jerry Graf – Energy Strategy wrote:

        > ** > jerrygraf commented: “Steve Thanks for reading and commenting. I > cannot make a blanket statement regarding all wind turbine applications > everywhere. The ones I have analyzed, particularly in Ohio, demonstrate > very bad economic performance, and are only viable because the” >

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Analysis of LEEDCO Icebreaker Project – Do wind watts really work?? | ajmarciniak
  2. LEEDCo Lake Erie Wind Project: Joint Letter of Protest | Jerry Graf - Energy Strategy

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