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Energy Innovation Doesn't Just Happen: How Government Policies Destroyed and Regenerated the U.S. Wind Turbine Industry, Twice

By Nathaniel Horner and Inês Azevedo

After a decade of annual near-death experiences, the production tax credit (PTC)—a tax benefit for generating electricity from certain renewable sources like wind—was allowed to expire at the end of last year. Like other policies such as investment tax credits and renewable portfolio standards (RPSs), the PTC was designed primarily to help shift the country’s energy supply towards more renewable sources. The response to these policies has largely come from wind generation, which now contributes over 4% of U.S. electricity supply.  A different set of policies in various European countries has enabled wind to meet over 7% of E.U. demand.

There are generally two ways to increase electricity generation from wind: we can construct more wind plants, or we can make the wind plants we build more productive. Arguments for the PTC tend to focus on the former: counting new project starts and added capacity, and noting ancillary benefits like jobs and economic stimulus. This makes sense, since it’s easy to count wind turbines cropping up over the landscape, and the relationship between the presence of incentives and the pace of construction can be readily seen.

The second means of increasing production is through technology innovation, and, in contrast to construction projects, it can be difficult to measure—innovations are not as easily countable as turbine towers, and the response time between implementation of an innovation policy and the appearance of any resulting technological advances in the commercial market is not immediate. Furthermore, when considering incentives for innovation, policymakers face difficulties of determining the counterfactual, i.e., would the advance occur even without the incentive? Nonetheless, innovation has been an immensely important part of the wind electricity success story: turbines today are larger and have higher capacity factors than their predecessors, reducing the cost of wind electricity to levels more or less competitive with conventional generation. If advances in technology had not happened, then wind projects would likely always need subsidies to be economically viable. Thus, it’s worth looking beyond building wind plants to think about how government policies incentivize technology innovation as well.

Innovation policy design

There are two general theories of innovation policy. Under technology-push policies, governments aim to reduce the costs of investing in innovation by providing direct subsidies—most often, R&D funds. Under demand-pull mechanisms, policymakers hope to increase the payoffs of investing in innovation by enhancing the market for the technology. The PTC and RPSs fall under this category—they create a demand for wind capacity, thereby (perhaps) inducing wind turbine suppliers to invest in creating better technology. Within each of these categories, policies can either be market interventions, like the PTC, that give one technology preferred treatment in the market, or command-and-control regulations, like the RPSs, in which a certain standard must be met. We often think of these respective options colloquially as carrots and sticks.

Command-and-control policies can be particularly effective at promoting innovation when they are stringent enough to be technology-forcing, that is, when meeting them is difficult using current technology. Notable examples of technology-forcing regulations in the U.S. occurred with emissions control technologies for power plants and automobiles.

Incentivizing the wind

So which policies, if any, have been successful in the U.S. at not only incentivizing construction, but also inducing innovation? The history of wind technology development in the United States[1] provides a clear example of how important the policy environment can be for innovation.

Many of us think of serious wind development in the U.S. beginning in the 1970s, but the first wind buildup actually occurred in the early half of the twentieth century. Enterprising rural farmers connected parts from water-pumping windmills, generators, and batteries to provide household electricity, and by the 1930s mass-produced “windchargers” could be purchased (via the Sears catalog, among other outlets). Hundreds of thousands of these small turbines soon dotted the American Midwest, but the establishment of the Rural Electrification Administration in 1935 and its subsequent aggressive push to connect these isolated farms to the electric grid essentially killed this industry by the 1950s.

The promise of atomic energy and cheap fossil fuels in the post-WWII era meant little interest in wind. By the latter half of the 1970s, however, stubbornly high nuclear plant costs and the oil embargo sowed the seeds for the first wind renaissance. The U.S. government took two significant policy actions to encourage wind technology. First, the Large Wind Turbine (LWT) R&D program administered by DOE and NASA attempted to develop commercial, utility-scale (multi-megawatt) wind turbines (Figure 1).[2] Second, the government issued what amounted to a 25% investment tax credit on wind turbine construction. Combined with state-level policies, the tax credit in California totaled 50%, and the wind rush was on. Instead of investing in large, complex machines, the order of the day was to build small and build fast. By 1985, 13,000 150-250 kW plants were constructed (Figure 2).

Boeing MOD 2, Goodnoe Hills

Figure 1: Boeing MOD 2 turbines at Goodnoe Hills, Washington, developed as part of the Large Wind Turbine research program. Erected 1980, dismantled 1986. Photo: US Government/Public Domain.

Were these policies successful? The LWT program failed to produce a turbine that made it to commercial production. The large plants proved technically complex and generally unreliable, and while some prototypes met with limited success, many met the fate of the Boeing MOD 2 turbine at Medicine Bow, Wyoming, which was dynamited and sold as scrap for $13,000 just five years after being built at a cost of $6 million.

In California, the tax credit incentivized construction of the turbines, but there was no incentive for those to then produce electricity. As a result, many plants were unreliable: the worst wind farms had capacity factors of less than 10%, and a not insignificant portion were later removed. The most successful turbines were of an older, simple, Danish design.

Altamont Pass Turbines, CA

Figure 2: Old turbines installed at Altamont Pass, CA. Photo: David J. Laporte / CC-BY-2.0

By some accounts, these two policies were high-profile failures that set the industry back a decade as people became disillusioned with wind. To be fair, though, these programs at least established a foothold for wind generation in the U.S. A DOE report found that the R&D program laid the technological foundation for later growth, while in California, the state retained enough working turbines in 1990 to produce over 2.5 TWh of electricity annually.

A second wind renaissance began just before the turn of the millennium. Coincident with the PTC (enacted in 1992) and state-level RPS policies—which mandate a certain proportion of electricity generation come from renewable sources—established beginning in the late 90s, the U.S. has seen dramatic growth in wind production over the past fifteen years.

Measuring innovation

We have mentioned four main policies involved in the history of U.S. wind generation: the level of federal R&D spending, the investment tax credits of the 1980s, the PTC, and the state-level RPSs—one technology-push policy and three demand-pull policies. It seems reasonable to conclude that the investment tax credits were not “technology-forcing,” and thus unlikely to have spurred innovation. But how do we assess policy effectiveness? First, we need to a way to measure innovation.

Economists use patent counts as one possible proxy for innovation, for reasons mainly related to data availability. Notwithstanding the well-documented limitations of this metric, it is not an unreasonable way to get a rough idea of the relative level of innovation activity within a particular technology area over time.

You can see a chart of patent counts juxtaposed with these policy variables in Figure 3 and can probably make a few reasonable hypotheses about the relationship between each policy and patenting activity. If we can also represent these policy variables (and additional “control” factors) quantitatively, we can set up a regression equation to determine which policies are most correlated with innovation. This is exactly what we do in a recent paper, to which we refer you for all the modeling details.[3]

Wind patenting and policies

Figure 3: Wind patenting rate over time (blue) juxtaposed with various wind policies: level of federal wind turbine R&D funding (top, green); counts of state-level renewable portfolio standards (bottom; red); and periods during which various tax credits were in place (bottom, shaded).  Image from our paper (Horner et al 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 044032).

Our results support the conclusion that the investment tax credits had no effect on innovation. Federal R&D had a significant, but small correlation, supporting the idea that these investments have been marginally effective. Perhaps the most interesting finding is that the state-level RPS policies, and not the PTC, are most correlated with patenting activity.

These results make sense for several reasons. First, of these policies, the RPS is the only command-and-control mechanism[4] and is thus most likely to be technology-forcing. Wind farm operators desire to meet renewable generation mandates as efficiently as possible. Some of the costs of building and operating a wind farm, such as land acquisition and tower construction, would be expected to scale on a per-turbine basis. Larger turbines also utilize better quality wind at a higher altitude. Therefore, larger turbines likely achieve lower per-MWh costs. The experience of the federal R&D program indicated the need for technological advances to achieve reliability in these larger sizes, and thus there was an incentive to invest in innovation.

Second, the lack of an effect from the PTC in spurring innovation may have had a lot to do with how the credit was implemented. Beginning in 2000, the credit was renewed for periods of only one or two years and was allowed to expire briefly three times. Because there is a lag between innovation investment and delivery to the market, this short renewal period did not inspire confidence in suppliers that a payoff for investment would still exist in the future. RPSs, in contrast, provided a stable, long-term signal that there would be a market for better turbine technology.

The history of wind turbine technology is quite fascinating, and there’s much more that can be said about how policies have affected its development. However, we’d like to end with two takeaways.  First, transformative innovations often need government support to transition from the high-risk early period to a state where industry can take over.  The fact that wind turbine technology has needed policy intervention to achieve its current level of success should not be seen as an indictment of it.  After all, the IT and aerospace industries are full of technologies now providing huge societal benefit but that needed government support early on.

Second, the manner of this support—policy design—is critically important.  Successful policies balance between rolling out existing technology and incentivizing investment in the next generation of technologies.  The investment tax credits of the 1980s were mis-targeted, and a careful survey of the technology landscape could perhaps have provided a more fruitful direction for the LWT program. One important policy attribute is time horizon: when dealing with innovative technology areas, often a longer-term view is warranted. The lack of predictability in the PTC renewal schedule likely hindered its effectiveness in inducing innovation (though it clearly led to turbine construction), and an expiration date further in the future would perhaps have made it a more effective driver of technological progress.

Policy decisions arguably killed wind in the U.S. in the 1930s and 1980s, and policy decisions brought it back both times.  While it doesn’t look like wind is headed for a third death in the near future, the talk of rolling back RPS policies in some states does threaten to bring the same sort of instability that plagued the PTC.  In any case, the lessons learned from the history of wind policy should be useful as we look to incentivize development of other energy technologies.


[1] For an excellent history of U.S. wind energy through the early 1990s, see Robert Righter’s Wind Energy in America: A History (University of Oklahoma Press, 1996).

[2] Only one multi-megawatt turbine had ever been built—forty years previous! The 1.25 MW Smith-Putnam turbine successfully fed electricity into Vermont’s electricity grid in 1941, but suffered two equipment failures, and interest faded in the postwar environment.

[3] Horner NC, Azevedo IL, & Hounshell DA (2013). Effects of Government Incentives on Wind Innovation in the United States. Environmental Research Letters 8 044032.

[4] Admittedly, this is a simplistic characterization of how RPSs are deployed in practice.  RPSs vary drastically from state-to-state; many allow for at least some of the mandate to be fulfilled via purchase of renewable energy credits and have cost-effectiveness requirements.  These attributes can make RPSs less stringent than typical command-and-control policies, and thus less effective technology-forcers.  For a detailed look at how each state’s RPS is set up, see dsireusa.org.


The Authors

Nathaniel Horner is a doctoral student in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, where his research includes innovation policy, energy systems, and energy use in the information technology sector.

Inês Azevedo as an Associate Professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, where she also serves as Co-Director for the Climate and Energy Decision Making (CEDM) Center.

Nathaniel Horner's picture

Thank Nathaniel for the Post!

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Keith Pickering's picture
Keith Pickering on December 8, 2014

“… turbines today are larger and have higher capacity factors than their predecessors, reducing the cost of wind electricity to levels more or less competitive with conventional generation. … Larger turbines also utilize better quality wind at a higher altitude. Therefore, larger turbines likely achieve lower per-MWh costs.” 

Not really. The cost of a wind turbine scales according to its mass, which scales according to the cube of the rotor diameter. But the energy available in the wind scales according to the square of the rotor diameter. Thus the gains in capacity factor from a larger turbine must be balanced against the losses in cost per rated capacity. This results in a “sweet spot” for turbine size at which costs are optimized, and right now we have hit that sweet spot in the 1.5 to 3 MW range, depending on locatlon. This explains why the cost of wind bottomed out in about 2003-2004 and has been moving sideways since.

The upshot is that further reductions in wind cost will be marginal. The physics of wind is well understood already, and the designs are mature. 

The next thing to consider is that the goal is not “more wind”. The real goal is “less fossil”, and governments at all levels would do better to aim toward the correct goal. Thus, instead of the current RPS strategy, emissions would be reduced faster and deeper with an FPS (Fossil Portfolio Standard), in which fossil generation is capped, and the cap comes down over time. Utilities could then determine for themselves the best, easiest, cheapest way to get under that lowering cap. The solution that emerges might be wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, or (most likely) a mix of all of those.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on December 8, 2014

It’s almost certain that industries improve with experience, but grid-connected wind power is part and parcel of the grid as a whole and it is the overall performance which crucial.  Argonne studied the issue and found rapidly decreasing benefits as the penetration of wind increased due to increased emissions from other plant starts and lower operating efficiency as they ran closer to idling power.  If this is not taken into account, we will have the paradoxical outcome of a large penetration of renewables but a much smaller cut in fuel consumption, and still be paying the bills for all of it.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on December 8, 2014

Nathaniel, blaming any of the deaths of the wind industry on flawed government policy is an interesting way to cast history, a bit like saying, “physics killed the promise of man-powered flight.” More accurately, they can be blamed on a lack of steady, reliable wind. The fact that the U.S. gets 5% of its energy relatively cheaply and cleanly from wind is a wonderful accomplishment. Will it ever replace fossil energy, or provide enough energy to reliably power the country or the world? Never.

Wind activists like to claim it displaces 5% of the country’s fossil fuel emissions, but that viewpoint is coming from a similar position skewed by entitlement. Inflated promises for both wind and solar are largely responsible for replacing carbon-free nuclear with gas-fired generation, and nuclear does indeed have the potential to eliminate most of mankind’s surplus carbon emissions. So wind’s contribution to low-carbon energy is probably a wash, and its ultimate effect on climate will be increasingly deleterious until the public becomes aware of its limits, accepts the fact that Fukushima-strength Japanese earthquakes really do only happen once per millennium, and learns to overcome its fear of the nuclear boogeyman. Or the next time one of those earthquakes rolls around, there won’t be any people left on earth to worry about it.

Nathaniel Horner's picture
Nathaniel Horner on December 9, 2014

Thanks for your comment.  I’m not blind to the issues caused by renewables on the grid, and this post was aimed more at showing the importance of careful alignment of policy details with energy innovation goals using the history of wind as an example, than at advocating for wind as the answer to a lower-carbon electricity supply.

In the interest of portraying an accurate picture, however, the authors of the paper you cite ultimately conclude that “additional emissions from increased start-up and cycling effects are much smaller than the reduction in emissions due to displacement of fossil-fired generation” and that “despite the increase in unit start-ups and cycling, the total amounts of CO2, CH4, CO, PM, NOx, and SOx emitted by thermal power units clearly decrease as the installed wind power capacity increases due to the overall displacement of fossil fuels.” That is, while renewables don’t achieve 100% of their theoretical carbon displacement due to the emissions from thermal backups, the net result is still a substantial reduction in CO2 and other pollutants (at least up to 40% penetration, the highest level they modeled).  It’s pretty hard to cast this result as being adverse to further deployment of renewables.

Nathaniel Horner's picture
Nathaniel Horner on December 9, 2014

Thanks very much for adding to the discussion, Keith, and I’m generally in agreement. For the most part, further innovations and associated cost reductions in turbine technology are likely to be incremental in nature.  Our point is that—partially in response to the RPS policies signaling a long-term commitment to make renewable generation a nontrivial part of the electricity mix going forward—innovations occurred, turbines got bigger, and costs came down.  We couldn’t hit the 3 MW “sweet spot” in a mass-produced turbine when we tried in the 1980s, but we got there in the 2000s as both deployment and innovation were spurred by better-aligned policies. It’s also worth noting that the economics of offshore turbines are different from land-based turbines: balance-of-plant costs constitute a much greater proportion of the capital outlay (see Fig. 4 here), so the square-cube law you cite is not as strong a driver of optimum turbine size.  Vestas and Siemens, at least, think a bigger size is optimal for offshore plants.

Regarding goals, as you note, choosing correctly is absolutely critical. California’s 1980s policy had the implicit goal of “more turbines,” when a goal of “more wind generation” would have perhaps led to a better experience. The goal behind the RPS is, in most cases, not “more wind” but rather “more renewables,” and it just so happens that wind has been—by far—the largest beneficiary exactly because it has been the “best, easiest, cheapest way” to meet RPS requirements.

Is “more renewables” the right goal? In an ideal world in which we could implement the most efficient and effective policy available, possibly not. The idea of a broader portfolio standard (e.g., a Carbon Portfolio Standard) has certainly been lobbied for, and DOE’s “all of the above” research strategy is an implicit agreement that we’ll need a to pursue a mix of technologies to get where we want to go.

I see a lot of advantages in a sufficiently stringent, national CPS/FPS, and I’d be happy to see one implemented.  However, I also think that carve-outs or special incentives for specific technologies aren’t necessarily a bad thing—they help spur earlier investment in high-risk areas that could provide great benefit in the future, even if they aren’t economically feasible today.  Going all-in on “best, easiest, cheapest” (if we’re being honest, the focus likely will be on the latter two) today might prevent us from laying the foundation for what’s best, easiest, and cheapest in the future.  As I advocated in the post, I think good policy strikes a balance between incentivizing deployment of the best present-day technology and encouraging innovation in next-generation tech.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on December 10, 2014

the authors of the paper you cite ultimately conclude that “additional emissions from increased start-up and cycling effects are much smaller than the reduction in emissions due to displacement of fossil-fired generation”

I’m aware that they wrote that.  Their full text is behind a paywall, but I analyzed the summary graph that they put in the abstract and found that their own data says their conclusion only holds for small fractions of wind generation.

the net result is still a substantial reduction in CO2 and other pollutants (at least up to 40% penetration, the highest level they modeled).

Data points pulled from their graph show that their own data says that the displacement of fossil fuels has fallen by more than half (53%) between the 30% and 40% penetration figures.  Drawing a straight line between the 30% and 40% points only gets you to 60-odd percent reduction even at generation of 100% of net consumption, and there is no way that that curve would fail to continue to flatten its slope toward horizontal.

It’s pretty hard to cast this result as being adverse to further deployment of renewables.

On the contrary, it is an extremely adverse result to more than marginal penetration.  At some point you need to put the erratic renewables at the end of the dispatch order or remove them entirely, because they must play second fiddle to carbon-free base load that requires neither storage nor carbon-emitting backup.

Nathaniel Horner's picture
Nathaniel Horner on December 11, 2014

I’m not arguing for anything approaching 100% wind penetration, or that wind would be a preferable substitute for a carbon-free base load.  But just as you wouldn’t want someone exaggerating the risks of nuclear technology, let’s not mischaracterize the size of the emissions reduction benefit found in the paper.  The authors’ table of results (which your extraction from their graph roughly matches) shows a 28% net reduction in CO2 at 30% penetration.  That 2 percentage-point take-back by gas backup doesn’t seem like big enough of a penalty to dismiss wind’s potential for significant carbon reductions beyond what is currently deployed.

To characterize 30% penetration as a “small fraction” of generation and a “marginal” increase over current levels is a severe understatement, to say the least.  We’ve got some headroom for more wind before diminishing returns take too big of a bite out of avoided emissions.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on December 11, 2014

The authors’ table of results (which your extraction from their graph roughly matches) shows a 28% net reduction in CO2 at 30% penetration.

But there’s only a 7% drop between 20% and 30% penetration; 30% of the benefit is already gone at about the 25% mark.  Between 30% and 40%, emissions only decrease by 4.7%; 53% of the benefit has vanished by the 35% mark.  In other words, the cost of emissions reduction has increased by more than 110%.  And I’m sure there’s an error in the data used to make the graph; it is incredible that a 10% penetration of wind could lower emissions by 11% or more.

If we’re going to credit wind for cutting carbon emissions, those benefits must be measured at the exhaust stack, not the circuit breaker.  If generator N generates less than half the benefits of generator 1, incentives for its construction should be scaled down proportionally (or not given at all).  If the cost/benefit ratio has fallen so far, it means that further efforts should go into other options.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on December 12, 2014

I have taken different lessons from the history of the wind power industry.

The 1980 debut of the Boeing MOD-2 wind turbine, with its 2.5 MWatt peak output being very near the sweet spot for today’s wind turbines, shows that the fundementals of wind power and the scaling rules were all known back then.  The MOD-2 had most of the important features of modern units: horizontal rotor axis, blades “upwind” of the tower, tubular steel tower, computer controlled nacel yaw steering, computer controlled blade pitch (although only the tip angles were controlled).  The main improvements in modern turbines over the MOD-2’s include the two steel blades being replaced with three fiber glass blades, and the fixed-speed AC synchronous generator being replaced with variable speed generators (double-fed induction and permanent magnet designs) which allows efficient operation over a wider range of wind conditions.  The MOD-2 were not too complex, in fact modern machines are more complex.

I would argue that the reason the MOD-2 was a commercial failure was that neither the government nor the investment community was willing to fund the design of this class of machines to true maturity, in order to bring down the “stubbornly high” cost.  As I recall, the modern wind industry was born in the US in the 1980s, but we dropped the ball, and didn’t resume until the Europeans had already proven the technology could be viable.  As figure 3 above shows, the boom in US wind power patents started around 2001, which is the first year the US wind industry installed more than a GWatt of new turbines (they actually hit 1.7 GWatts according to the AWEA).  With the multi-billion dollar revenue stream that resulted, the wind industry finally had adequate cash to put into product development.

So it’s really production volume and industry revenue that drive down cost, spur competition, and produce a more desirable product.  Given the low recent production volumes in the nuclear industry, it’s clear nuclear holds great promise for cost reductions.  If we are able to develop a regulatory environment that is more friendly towards incremental improvements and if we can maintain a steadily growing installation rate, then nuclear power should see the same cost reductions due to volume scaling as wind power. (So I agree that consistent multi-year policy support is needed).

A final note on the replacement of 1930s era wind-powered water pumps with electric pumps: that just goes to show that the market can be quick to replace technology that is not well suited to the task.

Dave Smart's picture
Dave Smart on December 12, 2014

Innovation policy design is at the very heart of the problem. Governments’ faith in a faulty market (subsidy) model destroys disruptive innovation, because it’s uncommercial! It always will be – the ROI is too uncertain and too distant. New technology must be ‘proven’ to have a good business case or nobody puts up the money – Catch 22.

 

Japan is way ahead of everyone else in patents for one simple reason. An application can be left unexamined for seven years, which saves that expense when you can least afford it.

 

The UK mechanism ROCs fixes prices. The PTC rewards the sale of electricity. Neither incentivises the invention of better ways to harvest renewable energy. The subject was covered in great detail earlier this year. I won’t bore everyone by repeating it:-

http://theenergycollective.com/evanjohnst/356746/has-wind-power-been-type-casted-good

 

Nearly all existing storage technologies, power-to-gas included, use “excess renewable electricity”. This is the wrong approach. Even pumped hydro storage is inefficient, as there are ‘round trip’ losses. Storing renewable energy BEFORE-generator is a game-changer, as you stop wasteful production of excess electricity. (and paying £324m to stop it!) – http://www.utilityweek.co.uk/news/Decc-aims-to-curb-constraint-gaming-with-new-licence-conditions/824902#.VIssgVrB78s

 

Our perspective on ‘efficiency’ needs to acknowledge that the efficiency of energy capture is all but immaterial, compared to the efficiency of supply of the electricity. That is to say, it’s a waste of time and money if wind power is generating more electricity than your grid can cope with (e.g. China and the UK.) or it’s supplying it when there’s no demand, as happens on occasions already, even with a low penetration of wind. (C02 displacement is a non-issue.)

 

If more highly skilled engineers than I were to research the holistic solution (before-generator energy storage), I’m sure they would find that 3MW of new technology would out-perform a 7MW nameplate conventional wind turbine, but who is going to pay for the R&D? It certainly won’t be the incumbent industries as it’s not in their interests and subsidies are paid for electricity from the products they currently produce. I think they’d object to the state subsidy of innovation that’ll put them out of business!

 

For a technology overview, have a look here:-http://www.nippon.com/en/views/b01506/

Dave Smart's picture
Dave Smart on December 25, 2014

Who will be merry this Christmas?

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/24/the-uk-capacity-auction-made-utility-companies-merry-this-christmas

The introduction of the ‘Capacity Market’ within The Energy Bill will certainly add to bill payers misery and another intervention invention, Contracts for Difference (derivatives) will most likely have a negative impact on the investment climate:-

Recent history proves that, off-shore, the “real-world viability” of the HAWT design convention is very much in question. The cancellation of UK windfarms – the Atlantic, Celtic and Argyll Arrays (total cost circa $22bn.), to name but three – is mainly due to the cost of installation of the wrong technology on the sea bed in 30m+ depths.

http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2014/07/wind-sector-takes-another-hit-as-celtic-array-cancelled.html

In stark contrast, the political redefinition of electricity infrastructure as – erm – infrastructure, could redirect, say, £50bn of taxpayers money from HS2 into sustainable, dispatchable power, to boost the whole economy for everyone’s benefit. There isn’t a functional ‘market’ in innovation (patent = monopoly), so when a government commits to a so-called ‘market’ solution it can kill off new technology.

“The government’s role is one of facilitating a climate for innovation, rather than evaluating and funding specific inventions.” Patricia Hewitt. The DTI. 29 Jan. 2003. That mantra is still in force. It is clearly devoid of any semblance of intellectual rigour. 95% of a straw poll disagreed with David Willetts’ advocacy of the same cop-out:-

http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/poll/2012/jan/06/our-high-tech-future

You reap what you sow.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/19/british-wave-power-hit-uncertainty-over-funding-report

Happy New Year.

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