A Free-Market Energy Blog

Windpower: Yet Another Texas-sized Problem (Hurricane Risk)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 14, 2009

Windpower is certainly a candidate for the perfect imperfect energy.

It is uneconomic to produce and more uneconomic to transmit. It is unreliable moment-to-moment (the intermittency problem). It is at its worst when it needs to be at its best (those hot summer days). Its aesthetics are bad.  It attracts the worst political capitalists (the late Ken Lay, the current T. Boone Pickens). W. S. Jevons was right in 1865 when he concluded that windpower was unsuitable for the industrial age.

Add another problem that is worse for windpower than conventional electric generation: weather risk.

Lightning strikes and other wind-centric problems have long been described in the trade press, but here is a new one. It concerns an attempt by wind developers in Texas (the state with a stringent wind mandate) to build closer to where the load is. As reported in ClimateWire (subscription) by reporter Evan Lehmann:

Two climate-related ventures — state-subsidized storm insurance and a surge in coastal wind turbine farms — appear to be heading for a showdown in Texas.

The state’s shaky hurricane insurance program might expand its coverage to include private wind farms as hundreds of turbines begin to dot its exposed gulf coastline, igniting concerns that taxpayers could shoulder the cost of replacing a company’s wrecked windmills.

The new problem has surfaced in regard to two projects in Kenedy Country that need coverage from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. TWIA does not want to provide this given all the problems it is going through from Ike and may go through again with the next hurricane. The problem: the $3.5 million turbines will partially or completely destruct in a Category 4 or Category 5 hurricane (around 120–130 miles per hour winds and higher).

The annual insurance premium for the coastal wind parks structures is estimated to be between $125,000 and $350,000 per turbine, the article goes on to state.

Yet another reason why windpower is unsuited for the modern energy economy…. it is dispersed and fragile.


  1. Mack Thrasher  

    Given the fact that carbon dioxide and human activity have nothing to do with climate change, there are better ways to produce energy. Wind could play a small role in energy production on an individual way especially in rural areas, such as farms and homes if it were subsidized by governments through a tax credit and on a smaller scale and piped in to a homes electicle system. In ten years we will realize we have been had and these turbines will just be enefficient eye sores, but some one will have made a pile of money by alarming the mass population and forcing governments to impliment this junk.
    Given the world econmy we should revert back to clean coal, fossil fuels, and pebble bed nuclear power which is safe and clean, no rods to dispose of and you can put six of them in three foot ball feilds so they could be installed closer to the load.


  2. Tom Tanton  

    So wind represents a risk if the wind blows? Guess what, it represents a risk when the wind DOESN’T blow–truly a technology for all seasons!


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