Image from http://robrogers.com/2016/03/17/trumpzilla/
As a country, America can often excel at things, though sometimes those things are nothing to be proud about. The impending disaster that is The Donald as President is one of those things not to write home about - a shameful event whose magnitude still has yet to dawn upon a lot of people. But most of them will eventually get it, and pay for it in lots of ways. Those responsible for this event - well, maybe they will persist in claiming it's not all that bad, or it could be worse, or something - after all, for many all they did is either not vote at all or merely cast a vote for this Potential Debacle on an epic scale. After all, so many thought he never had a chance to win, so this was their protest vote. And such a protest, though for many the ones doing the protest many find that it falls on deaf ears. Undoing the damage may not even be possible, especially if you fall in the bottom 90% of the income and wealth scales of America…
But seriously, if there were such a thing as Godzilla, would you bring him to your town - say for the July 4 parade and fireworks - what could possibly go wrong? How about to meet your mom or to impress your significant other? Oh, the fireworks! Barbecue anyone? And while the top image has some comic aspects to it, if there were such a beast such as ‘Zilla, seriously, the more distance you keep between it and you and all those you like and love, the better. After all, as the story goes, this beast got unleashed by firing off a nuclear bomb in just the wrong spot, and how could that possibly sound like a good thing to do? In the history of bad ideas, well, unleashing The Donald certainly rates high on the list…
But rather than key on so many aspects of this - which will get covered en masse while its still allowable to do such a thing, as there’s just a never-ending story to it all - let’s zoom in on one of Trumpzilla’s targets - wind turbines and wind sourced electricity.
The Donald and wind turbines do not seem to be copacetic. He hates the way they look, at least when they are near any of his golf courses. He is certain that they will depress the value of his golf course (what could be more important?) and that it will detract from the golfing experience for him and the patrons of his project located on the North Sea coastline near Aberdeen, Scotland. He’s got big plans for that place, and even though he lost every appeal, court case and legislative appeal to the Scottish Parliament (where he was thoroughly mocked and insulted because he would not shut up about it), he is STILL pushing on British politicians to stop the impending wind farm proposed for the waters next to his golf course. It seems that the North Sea is both shallow and amazingly windy (sounds like quite the challenge to play golf, especially for such a terrible golfer as The Donald), and a great place to put wind farms. The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) project - using 11 of the biggest turbines made to date in the world - is scheduled to be installed shortly between 1 to 3 km offshore by the socialist enterprise known as Vattenfall (the electric company owned by the government/people of Sweden). It’s actually an R & D demonstration project, and on the few days with visibility, wow are these hummers going to be visible. The turbines are MHI-Vestas V164 turbines with a rotor diameter of 538 feet and an top rotor maximum height of 773 feet (http://www.4coffshore.com/windfarms/aberdeen-offshore-wind-farm-(eowdc)-united-kingdom-uk47.html). Talk about giving The Donald the NY Bird “bigly” and 11 times at once! And for decades! For an image conscious guy, that’s got to be ever so hurtful. How to get revenge?
But then there is the case of Atlantic City, formerly home to 3 casinos owned by/developed by/operated by The Donald. It seems they actually have a smaller wind farm array located right on the coast (at the water treatment facility):
But since people gambling in the casinos are not supposed to look OUT of the casinos (at least while gambling), evidently, no big deal. These 5 GE turbines were put in almost a decade ago, and are mostly used to power up the sewage facility, though on occasion their excess electricity used to help power up those gambling palaces/money extraction zones for dopamine junkies. And while there may have been complaints, by the time these were installed The Donald had gone bankrupt on the Atlantic City facilities more than once. The last of these recently shut down, throwing lots of people out of work (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/10/10/trump-taj-mahal-closes-after-years-losses/91845566/). But The Donald has been forced out of that scene for some time, though not without some serious money extraction from casino investors, the State of New Jersey and many more, as well as tax avoidance possibilities worth nearly a $916 million that has been spread out over a generation…
So, wind turbines in Atlantic City - OK. Wind turbines xext to The Donald’s dream golf course in a place with some of the worst weather, on average, to golf in - very bad. But since we are in the Post Truth Era (PTE), it only depends on what the whim of The Donald is at any given time and place. Be flexible, as flexible as is the concept of PTE, and it won’t trouble you possibly worried mind….
The EOWDC is stated to cost close to 300 million Pounds, or roughly $US 500 million. It’s been close to a decade in the making, and it will be used to demonstrate cost saving design, construction and operation techniques for mega-turbines. Scotland intends to be fully powered as far as electricity goes with renewable energy energy by 2020 (they are close, using hydropower, onshore and offshore wind turbines). No nukes, no coal power and no methane energy sourcing for their electricity. In fact, they want to earn a nice income from sales of offshore wind sourced electricity (possibly waves and tidal, too) to England and Northern Europe. The deployment of these offshore project will serve as employment for those now servicing the offshore oil and gas industry in Scotland, especially a useful concept since the oil and gas fields are rapidly depleting. It seems like a perfect match - awesome wind resource, a highly skilled workforce, a huge market for renewable electricity in Europe, energy storage in Norway interconnected via HVDC lines. And the golf-business-tourism fantasies of The Donald never have and never will be able to interfere with that future, even if he manages to assume the Presidency in 2016, as scheduled.
As part of the 2016 campaigning for the Title of President, The Donald pandered relentlessly to some, and insulted many others. Some “panderees” (those pandered to) included the still or ex-coal mining dependent regions of Appalachia - Pa, Ohio, WV, Ky, Tenn, Va - which ended up giving him many electoral votes. It does not matter that the reasons for the demise of employment in the coal biz in that region - depletion, mountain top removal, the destruction of unions and the below the cost of production of fracking sourced methane in the Marcellus and Utica shale zones - mean that coal will become more and more irrelevant as an economic engine for the region. Scapegoating is a skill perfected by The Donald, and it was those darn environmental regulations such as the Clean Sky Initiative - those are to blame. And competition to the use of coal to make electricity from old or nuke nukes and methane fired generation facilities - that’s not a problem (in a non-PTE world, it IS the problem for coal usage, but we’ve now departed from that world…). Wind turbines are also a problem, as they use up the available market for electricity. Wind turbines will be supplying close to 5.5% of the US electricity at the end of 2016 (http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=28512), and probably over 6% by the end of 2017. And since not even old nukes can compete with the marginal production cost of wind turbines once they are installed… each wind turbine installed means either less fracking methane and/or coal gets used for electricity.
Of course, when or if the people in Appalachia ever get their senses back from whatever voodoo The Donald has induced in so many of them, they will realize that once again, they have been had. There will be no recovery in the US eastern coal market, where prices are now in the $40/ton range, and which has to compete with strip mined lignite from Wyoming/Montana/Colorado/NorthDakota that goes for $9/ton. The biggest 3 coal companies in the US are now operating under bankruptcy protection, and they seem unlikely to make any money mining coal to make electricity (for steel production, maybe its a money maker). But then neither is the fracking for methane biz in that region - prices are often in the $0.50 to $2/MBtu range, and nobody is making much (if any) money at such prices. And this region supplied close to 1/3 of US methane last year. Meanwhile, there is more and more midwest wind, and Canadian wind. And there is energy efficiency - the goal of replacing the incandescent lightbulb with either CFL or LEDs is almost complete. That alone has shaved 2% off of US electricity demand. Smaller computers, LCD displays and iPads now means that electricity needed for home and office computing has drastically shrunk, so there goes THAT market, too. As for the big server centers (which is a growing market for electricity), more and more of these are seeking long term (20 years or more) contracts (Power Purchase Agreements) at stable, predictable prices. And that just cannot be had using coal, nukes or methane, as nobody knows what long term methane prices will be other than much higher. Wind turbines are the safe bet for those, too.
But there are other aspects to The Donald and the coalition that brought him to power. Another acronym for Republicans is GOP - Gas and Oil Party - and they seriously need higher prices NOW for both methane and crude oil. Upstart competition like wind turbines shrinks the potential demand for fracking based methane (now the majority of methane extracted in America), and that keeps prices low. Since drilling and production contracts/financing deals for methane and oil forbid throttling back production when prices suck, all that can be done is to steal market share from someone else - in this case from coal burners and nukes. But when prices finally do rise when demand exceeds supply for methane (and when a lot of coal burners and nukes have shut down, forever), coal prices will also rise and some increasing use of coal is expected. But most likely it will be stuff shipped in from the strip-mines in the west, the $9/ton stuff. That is, if the coal extractors for Appalachia have not mostly been shut down, forever, by then. After all, bankrupt coal companies can only go so long without a profit before the banks and bondholders finally pull the plug.
So the future for wind turbines may be to experience a “delay of game” for a couple of years. But subsidies for the industry end by 2022, and largely by 2020, with the phase out beginning by the end of 2018. And will Republicans and The Donald do massive subsidies to Appalachia coal extractors (and tax credits and depreciation don’t cut it if there are no profits to avoid via credits and depreciation)? Doubtful - coal sales for the US are only $25 billion, and less than $15 billion for the east of the Mississippi River stuff and again, just losses, no profits. Meanwhile, Low Wind Speed Turbines have become amazingly efficient at tapping the Great Plains winds at amazingly low costs per delivered MW-hr. Once methane prices rise (a result of little new drilling/fracking and rapid depletion of shale gas wells and ever poorer resources to tap), UNSUBSIDIZED wind turbines will actually be the lower cost option for electricity. And by 2018/2020, well, that’s a long time away, assuming democracy is even possible at that point. So those longing for a coal revival in Appalachia, as well as a fracked methane one will once again get The Shaft. That’s the other aspect of The Donald, perhaps his One True Essence, as if you’re not rich, you’re nobody, especially after the votes have been cast. A grifter’s gotta grift, and after a lifetime of doing that and screwing people/investors/governments out of at least $3 billion with zip to show for it, is The Donald going to wake up and See The Light? Seriously, in the Heart of Darkness that is his meager mind with respect to anything that is not marketing and looking for the next mark?
You might have better luck at bringing Godzilla to the wedding reception. At least that will have a quick end….
Last images to remember The Donald by… These are of the MHI-Vestas Burbo extension (near Liverpool) V164 turbines; there will be 32 of them eventually installed, and some are now making electricity. And Trumpzilla will not be happy at what these are foretelling...., but unlike that Personality Disorder posing as a humanoid, most people find this project a step in the right direction. And they sure do look cool...