English - Nooteboom Giants on the Road Magazine English - Nr. 6 - 2019 | Page 37
THE PROOF IS IN THE PRICE
Up till now the switch to clean energy has been strongly influenced by
political decisions. A coal-fired power station supplies power that costs
less than € 0.05 per kWh. However on the bill you get at home it says
€ 0.20 or more. Most of this difference goes to the government in the
form of taxes. In recent years the government has given the construction
of wind turbines a boost by subsidising them. It is even suggested
that windmills are not viable without subsidy. This is only partly true,
because the tax revenue from wind energy is lower than the tax revenue
from using a polluting coal-fired power station but if you add the costs
of the pollution, wind energy is much cheaper. Politics have had a big
influence on the development of the wind industry. This influence will
disappear, because the sector has grown up and can produce enough
cheap energy to compete with the fossil-fuel based energy production.
The first tenders with a cost price per kWh of less than € 0.05 are already
a reality and the cost of wind energy keeps coming down.
The technical developments at the producers of windmills have moved
forward significantly over the last few years and there is plenty more
to come. An important development is the switch from generators
with a gear box to ‘direct-drive’, where the generator turns at the same
speed as the rotor blades. The advantages of the direct-drive: fewer
moving parts, better cooling, higher output and lower noise production.
Divisible generators should make the installation and maintenance
simpler. Another development, which will have a big influence on
the construction and transport is the ability to produce higher power
levels. Until recently no manufacturer managed to cross the 10 MW
barrier. GE is the first to introduce a 12 MW offshore wind turbine and
reports about a 15 MW version have already appeared in the press. One
Water basin around the tower for storage of energy
single windmill of this size will produce power for 12,000 to 15,000
people! The construction of even bigger and taller windmills is now
still limited by the size of the components and the capacity of existing
crawler cranes. In various places they are working on the development
of climbing cranes, which makes it possible to build higher towers.
Divisible components, such as rotor blades and generators will make
the transport and installation easier.
The specialized trailers from Nooteboom for the wind industry are used worldwide