Thanks to the New York Times for this news from the world of alternative energy:
LIVERPOOL, England — When engineers faced resistance from residents in Denmark over plans to build wind turbines on the Nordic country’s flat farmland, they found a better locale: the sea. The offshore wind farm, the world’s first, had just 11 turbines and could power about 3,000 homes.
That project now looks like a minnow compared with the whales that sprawl for miles across the seas of Northern Europe.
Off this venerable British port city, a Danish company, Dong Energy, is installing 32 turbines that stretch 600 feet high. Each turbine produces more power than that first facility.
It is precisely the size, both of the projects and the profits they can bring, that has grabbed the attention of financial institutions, money managers and private equity funds, like the investment bank Goldman Sachs, as well as wealthy individuals like the owner of the Danish toymaker Lego. As the technology has improved and demand for renewable energy has risen, costs have fallen.
And offshore wind, once a fringe investment, with limited scope and reliant on government subsidies, is moving into the mainstream. Europe, too, looks all the more attractive, as the United States under President Trump rethinks its stance on renewables.
“If you had polled infrastructure investors five years ago, only a few would have been looking at offshore wind,” said Suzanne Buchta, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch global co-head of green bonds.
Now, she said, they “are a little more comfortable.”
Offshore wind has several advantages over land-based renewable energy, whether wind or solar. Turbines can be deployed at sea with fewer complaints than on land, where they are often condemned as eyesores.
But the technology had been expensive and heavily dependent on government subsidies, leaving investors wary. That is now changing.
Turbines today are bigger, produce much more electricity and are deployed on much larger sites than in the past. The result is more clean power and extra revenue.
The number of major players has also expanded, creating more competition. A joint venture of Vestas, the Danish turbine maker, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan, is now competing with Siemens, which had long dominated the market for building offshore turbines. Others, like the American giant General Electric and Chinese manufacturers, are also jumping into the game…
Read the whole article here.