Claim: Next Generation Wind Turbines With Storage Are A ‘Gamechanger’

Climate Progress touts:

GE’s Brilliant 1.6-100 and 1.7-100 wind turbines are different from previous efforts because they use a short-term, grid-scale battery storage system paired with an “industrial internet” — a sophisticated system that is able to predict when power will be needed and when the wind will be blowing. It’s also bigger. All of this increases efficiency and capacity factor, or how much energy a turbine actually can produce.

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33 thoughts on “Claim: Next Generation Wind Turbines With Storage Are A ‘Gamechanger’”

  1. Didn’t notice anything to prevent birds and bats from being minced.


  2. As far as total energy use, you are correct. However, you have to account for direct pollution as well. A cheap Chinese hammer forged in with cheap, high sulfur lignite coal and no emissions controls has more direct pollution than you can shake a hammer at. While an American hammer forged with natural gas has next to no direct pollution. Similarly, the energy use in China has a much higher pollution per kwh than American. If you use the stupid definition of “green” = low energy, then you are correct, but if you mean green to be “low pollution”, the nyou cannot be more wrong.

  3. Adam, that’s the wrong analysis. I’ve read it before. It confuses spot price with total cost. Wind’s low price is due to its non-dispatchability. You can’t plan for it, and you can’t prepare for it, so it’s low value despite it’s advertising power. It’s the Walmart of the energy industry. Low price for cheap junk. If you adjusted that cost for the large feed-in tarriff, you would find it far more expensive.

    Net Taxes is a better measurement because it accounts both for profitability and subsidies. Fossil Fuel industries pay extremely high net taxes due to a combination of income and excise taxes that far exceed any government handouts and subidies that they get. On the other hand, wind power pays very low taxes and gets large volumes of subsidies and even feed-in tarriffs, so much so that one company in Spain was found to be using diesel generators to shine lights on their solar panels at night and making money hand over fist. That way, you don’t have to charge a decent price for your power. You just let the government pay you for it.

  4. Oil companies get a depletion allowance on the oil produced since oil/gas are not renewable resources. They get to write off the cost of drilling (most oil companies do not own drilling rigs, at least for onshore operations) plus they get to depreciate the production equipment. So all this green talk about oil companies getting subsides is BS on the part of the environmentalists who are so used to having money given to them, tax free, just to make stupid comments.
    We had a wind charger when I grew up on the farm and it was used to run a DC radio. An Exide 6V battery stored electricity generated by the charger so the radio could be run when there was no wind (something that seldom occurred). So the technology is not new. As soon as we got REA lines and the power turned on the battery and charger got delegated to the junk heap. Had to buy a new radio since the DC radio wouldn’t run on AC. We didn’t get any government subsidies for the charger or any government help for converting to an AC radio. Times were tough back then.

  5. Often “oil” and Natural gas” are tossed in the in the same green salad as the same big bad companies get both often from the same big bad hole in the ground. NG is used for a lot of power generation.

  6. Okay but you have to consider cost of construction and longevity of an item. Chinese steel has historically not been near the quality of US steel. So that 30 dollar hammer may be more to produce but will last much longer and as a result you will only need 1 US hammer vs the 5 China hammers over time.

  7. I should also point out this is true, even if you are purchasing the exact same item. Hammer “Item 123” produced in the USA and sold for $30 is going to be less environmentally friendly than the exact same Hammer “Item 123” produced in China and sold for 10 bucks.

    You might have to think about this one a bit – but it is absolutely true.

  8. You are absolutely right about cheaper products being greener. The environmental usage needed to create an item approximates its dollar cost.

  9. Oil costs about 5x as much as coal per btu of output. That is why Diesel is only used in certain peak applications and in remote areas where it is difficult to transport coal, or even NG.

  10. “… it isn’t worth implementing unless someone else is paying the bill.” The theme of the “green” energy movement.
    In general, the more costly something is, the more environmentally demanding that something is. If “green” energy costs more than “conventional”, the “conventional” is probably greener.

  11. Interestingly oil transported by pipeline is considerably safer. About half the incidences of issues per amount of oil transported. And the pipelines don’t usually go through downtown, of any town, so if they do blow up, you don’t lose a city.

    Oil by rail has gone up dramatically in the past four years, but the Obama admin is loathe to approve more pipes like Keystone, not necessarily because of environmental issues, but because his good friend Warren Buffet owns the rail lines that transport the oil. If Buffet were building pipelines they would be instantly approved.

  12. It did claim that the batteries would only cost $1 per megawatt hour. I don’t think they are including maintenance, or installation fees with that. And I am sure there are a few other fees and costs lurking about.

    The windmill power itself will still cost several times that of coal.

  13. Yes, as others have said, when you look into it, it is mostly FIFO accounting which probably 90% of companies use, because it makes sense, not because they are ripping off Uncle Sam, and depreciation of equipment, which is really a scam by the government to collect more taxes. Companies should be allowed to write off equipment immediately. Anyway, every company down to your local hardware store depreciates equipment as well – well you can also lease the equipment to get the tax write off right away and the lesser gets the write off – but again every company is allowed to do that – and these two items amount to almost all the “subsidies” eco groups claim oil companies get.

    As I mentioned before oil companies are actually punished with a 45% tax on profits where all other corporations pay only 38%

  14. I read the article. It didn’t provide to much more except a bit of hysteria about CO2. If you want us to focus on something please snippet out a quote.

    They aren’t using any different battery technology than already exists, and suggest that some places might want to use LiIon rather than their fancy new battery (further indicating there is some issue)

    The idea of using batteries with windmills is decades old, and the problem has always been cost.

    If these guys have figured out a way to incorporate batteries into wind power and make them competitive with NG and Coal – heck make them even twice the cost of NG or Coal, my hat off to them.

    Somehow I think they use political math – designed to get more subsidies.

  15. There is nothing new in this article. Melting salt with solar is something we have been doing since the 1970’s using a battery to store variable energy from a wind turbine to release later and to temper the swings in wind and wind speed is a big duh.

    The problem is adding a battery capable of storage, or adding the molten salt core to a solar plant, costs so much extra that it isn’t worth implementing unless someone else is paying the bill. This is why they build Natural gas backup, because it is just so much cheaper to just nod at the government mandate, and build a gas turbine to provide the real power.

    You can do anything you want if you have infinite money. What is needed is something that is practical AND affordable.

  16. Please list the oil company subsidies. Last time I saw an Eco but do this 2/3rds of the subsidy was FICO accounting which any company is allowed to do. The other subsidies were also silly. Getting to depreciate equipment was another big one. No way – you get to write off equipment over its useful life.

    The reality is oil companies are punished more – unlike GE which pays no taxes and unlike the rest of companies which pay 38% base – oil companies are forced to pay 45% taxes on their profits.

    No next time you read about massive oil subsidies in Mother Jones be aware that most of it is bogus.

  17. It’s journalistic sleight of hand:

    “Can advances in technology allow renewable energy sources to be reliable for second-to-second grid use? It’s already happening. In 2011, a concentrated solar plant produced power for 24 hours straight. A huge array of mirrors heated up a huge molten-salt battery system that permitted the solar plant to supply power when the sun was down. Reliable, steady wind energy is also becoming a real thing.

    GE’s Brilliant 1.6-100 and 1.7-100 wind turbines are different from previous efforts because they use a short-term, grid-scale battery storage system paired with an “industrial internet” — a sophisticated system that is able to predict when power will be needed and when the wind will be blowing. It’s also bigger. All of this increases efficiency and capacity factor, or how much energy a turbine actually can produce.”

    They tell us about a solar system that works at night, then tell us about GE’s battery-on-a-turbine. The function of the battery system is NOT producing power when there is no wind, even though the lead-in implies it. The battery system is simply to clean up the power from wind. Short-term only.

    “Grid-scale battery storage system” is just more verbal trickery.

  18. I wonder why the “oil subsidy” always seems to be brought up. There isn’t that much electrical generation from oil. The heat rate of a petroluem fired turbine is ~13,300 Btu/kW and an internal combustion (diesel) engine is 10,400 Btu/kW. At $3.50/gal for fuel oil, the fuel costs of electricity are $.34/kWh and $.26/kWh, respectively. The “average” spot price on PJM is somewhere around $0.03-$0.05/kwh. Not much call for baseload, petroleum fired generation.

  19. It sounds as though GE has discovered grid control such as is done in the FERC regions and discovered that they can connect to demand, day ahead forecasts via the internet. This has been done for quite some time and I’m surprised that this is not being done for wind turbines now. When I read the title my thought was “battery” and sure enough they are attaching batteries to the turbine. Assuming you can put in the storage for $500/kWh, then you are looking at costs north of $750,000 for a 1.5 MW turbine. Sure looks like very expensive electricity. I wonder what the rate payers in Michigan would say if they saw, side-by-side, their cost of electricity from these turbines and their cost for electricity from coal and gas.

  20. Adam: once again, please check your facts. The ‘tax breaks’ for the oil companies are the same ones that almost every manufacturer of anything gets. Your religious ferver is lacking factual data and is not adding to the discussion.

  21. Howdy adamdruit
    1. “Subsidies” for oil companies are generally the normal tax deductions that any business uses, as noted above. There aren’t any special subsidies for oil and gas at the federal level.
    2. One could claim that the royalties for oil and gas production on federal lands are too low, but they are the standard royalties that private producers also receive. I’ve done a little work in this area.
    3. The subsidies for “clean” energy are real subsidies and the “standards” for “clean” energy are real rents — money paid from the treasury to sustain these operations, rates higher than market paid to the producers, standards that require distributors to use the unreliable and inefficient energy and pass the costs to ratepayers. Those ratepayers include the poor and non-profit organizations, who spend more of their limited budgets on energy than is needed.
    Your note about the oil cars blowing up is true. We don’t have any perfectly safe ways of producing, storing or distributing energy. We’ve never had them. Pipelines, it turns out, are the least costly and safest way to distribute petroleum and petroleum products, although pipelines have their own problems.
    Good stewardship matters. Luddite thinking is poor stewardship; it uses more resources to produce less value and so robs everyone in the society of valuable goods and services.

  22. adam, you have fallen victim to the fallacy that “subsidies” and “tax credits” are the same thing, or that the scale of subsidies as opposed to tax credits are in any way equivalent between carbon based energy and “renewables.” Oil companies mostly get the tax credits that most other businesses can take advantage, regardless of what they produce – and there’s very little of that money that goes to makeing oil and gas “competitive.” If all of the tax breaks went away tomorrow, oil and gas would still be the 2nd most competitive form of energy on the planet – only coal would still beat them. Wind and Solar, on the other hand, wouldn’t even compete well with nuclear for cost per unit energy.

  23. Market prices for frequency regulation don’t tell us a damn thing about what the turbines cost.

  24. The media releases are full of happy horse$hit.

    Reuters: “GE did not disclose the cost of the turbines or the timing of the delivery.”

    All are devoid of numbers. We are not supposed to look behind the curtain. We are supposed to accept that GE has made the wondrous breakthrough.

    I have no doubt that 3 years from now, when GE releases their next generation of wind turbines, it will be the wondrous breakthrough – all over again.

  25. The more complex the more will go wrong. When i read ” a sophisticated system that is able to predict when power will be needed and when the wind will be blowing” i knew this was going absolutely nowhere. Or maybe if the NSA computer becomes available, a series of genius programmers could get something somewhat working in about 20 years.

  26. As long as there are tax credits on these things I will always suspect their real world viability …

  27. Until they supply numbers about the unit cost of production vs other methods, it means nothing. There is no technological impediment to setting up battery arrays around windmills, and has not been for years. The problem is cost – but cost is rarely mentioned in these puff-pieces.

  28. If it works — see the listing under big IFs — it would improve the efficiency of wind generation. Enough to make it genuinely feasible? I dunno. If it’s a real gamechanger, that would be very interesting.
    But ClimateProgress, like ThinkProgress, is poor at both parts of its name. When a real producer puts it to work without subsidies, I’ll think about believing.

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