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Earth Power Hardware

Chinese To Supply 600 MW Wind Farm In Texas 453

Hugh Pickens sends in a Wall Street Journal report that Chinese banks will provide $1.5B to a consortium of Chinese and American companies to build a 600-megawatt wind farm in West Texas, using turbines made in China. The wind farm will be built on 36,000 acres, and will use 240 2.5-megawatt turbines, providing enough power to meet the electrical needs of around 150,000 American homes. The project will be the first instance of a Chinese manufacturer exporting wind turbines to the United States. China aims to be the front-runner in wind- and solar-power generation "The Obama administration is hoping a shift to renewable energy will inject new life into the US manufacturing base and provide high-paying jobs, making up for losses in other sectors. But while the US has poured money into renewable energy through tax credits and other subsidies, China has positioned itself to reap many of the benefits by ramping up its export machine."
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Chinese To Supply 600 MW Wind Farm In Texas

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  • by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @09:48AM (#29923061) Homepage
    Oh, T. Boone. You really need a better pseudonym.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday October 30, 2009 @09:49AM (#29923071)

    What with all the rest of the cheap Chinese shit we Americans buy every day, what's the big deal with buying some more cheap shit to generate our electricity?

    Hey, cheaper turbines making cheap electricity. We're preserving the American Way of Life.

    • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:32AM (#29923563) Homepage

      There's a difference between buying cheap Chinese shit at the dime store and buying high-profile technology from them. Oh, the shame...

    • Works great for one two three months but false apart after the first rainfall. Kind of the same way the clothes made in China last.
    • by muckracer ( 1204794 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:47AM (#29923777)

      > Hey, cheaper turbines making cheap electricity. We're preserving the
      > American Way of Life.

      No, we don't. At least when you look beyond tomorrow morning. If all we can
      afford is cheap and ever more cheaper, our standard of living will eventually
      be just that: cheap crap. While in the meantime the Chinese raise theirs, have
      better and more quality products and can afford it easily.

      The Chinese are incredibly clever...they produce everything 'for cheap' just
      as we idiots want them to in our penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude. We give
      them our precious fruits of 'research and development' to produce the actual
      products. So even if they produce at a loss, it's a huge
      win-win-win-win-win-etc situation for them. They practically leapfrog over
      what took our economy years and decades to develop.
      For every factory producing goods according to our blueprints is one shadow
      factory a few miles further, producing the same exact item minus the
      brand-name. That will then be sold across all of Asia, including the 'chinese
      market' our western capitalists like to salivate over, for half the price than
      the identical 'original' item. In the end they not only got the know-how for
      free, but also manufacturing methods, perhaps even the machines to produce and
      then make money at the end with their own copies while our business has to
      fold as it can't compete by any margin at least on their asian market.
      That they sell turbines of all things to us should be shaking us to the core!

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @09:52AM (#29923103)

    I hope that the Chinese exports to the US do not mean the USA loses all control of the technology behind the venture.

    Who knows...the Chinese could well end up controlling everything we rely on. This could be a backdoor entry!

    • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:03AM (#29923223) Homepage

      I hope that the Chinese exports to the US do not mean the USA loses all control of the technology behind the venture.

      Just like when US exporters give out their technology to their buyers so they can control the technology.

      You know, a good test of whether an idea like yours really is reasonable is to simply reverse the terms in your mind, and ask yourself, in this case: "self, if the US was exporting turbines to China, would I be fine with giving them the know-how and have China control the technology?"

      If, in your mind, it does sound reasonable, then it quite possibly is. If not, then it's not.

    • by cryfreedomlove ( 929828 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:07AM (#29923271)
      The door is open on a level playing field for American companies to design and manufacture wind farm turbines. The fault for why this did not happen lies within America. You want the USA to 'control' the technology? Control in the 21st century comes from innovation and first mover advantage.

      I personally don't have a problem with where the turbines come from. Borders don't mean a whole lot to me and cheap, clean energy is social justice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Thelasko ( 1196535 )
      Let's hope the Chinese made turbines are better than the ones made in India. [windaction.org]
    • This could be a backdoor entry!

      thats a good way to describe how China is shafting the US which has become complacent

    • by masonc ( 125950 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @12:21PM (#29925233) Homepage

      There is only one US company making Megawatt class wind turbines. Almost all the high quality Megawatt class units in the world come from Europe, where there has been an emphasis on research and progress on sustainable energy. The US has voluntarily stepped out of the field since the progress made in the 1980's. Deregulation of the utilities and the lack of Government incentives has killed this industry, not foreign competition. You cannot have the technological lead in alternate energy without government support.

  • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @09:56AM (#29923149)
    I thought those huge blades were very difficult to manufacture and transport. I know for something this expensive they can customize a barge and do something special at the port, but I'm surprised this didn't give local producers an edge. And while I considered myself knowledgeable about the waking dragon, I'm somewhat surprised that they have the manufacturing chops to produce something this "high tech". I guess it's another feather in their hat that their businessmen can arrange this sort of deal. With Texas no less.

    Come ON people! Get it together!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by magarity ( 164372 )

      The blades might be hard to transport but the summary says the Chinese are making the turbines, not the blades.

      • dictionary.com: turbine
        any of various machines having a rotor, usually with vanes or blades, driven by the pressure, momentum, or reactive thrust of a moving fluid, as steam, water, hot gases, or air, either occurring in the form of free jets or as a fluid passing through and entirely filling a housing around the rotor.

        I think that means they _are_ making the blades.

        Maybe they're not making the generator that the turbine is connected to.

      • And what exactly do you think is the main part of a turbine is? (Hint: It's a word that starts with 'B', and has the letters 'L''A''D''E' and 'S' in it.)

    • Uhh, high tech??? WTF is high tech about a wind mill? We have been building wind mills for about 3 thousand years, so it is mature tech in extreme. However, you do realize that China is launching space vehicles - *that* is high tech.
      • Lack of knowledge of a specific area technology is something that can happen to the best of us. It only becomes unpleasant stupidity when you cling to your ignorance even when you are given fairly strong hints that should make you either shut up or read up on the subject.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Wages are cents in the dollar. Working conditions are as cheap and unsafe as they can get. Wind turbines due to low manufacturing numbers have a high labor content as such, there is no way reasonable or acceptable way for US labor to compete and if they could of course the whole exercise becomes utterly pointless as they could not afford to pay the electricity generated killing the investment.

      As long as government continue down the path of blind, deaf and dumb monkeys and don't accept the need to establi

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sandbags ( 964742 )

      TFA stated this was a Chinease/American company based in the USA making the turbines... They will not be imported cheap chinease crap, they'll be made right here by American families (using China's money, much of which will stay here in our economy instead of theirs).

      I bought a nice new Chevy a few years ago, and a Chrysler 2 years later. One was manufactured in Canada, the other in Mexico. The Honda, Subaru, and Kia we've also bought over the years were all made in America, with over 80% of manufacture

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Nick Number ( 447026 )

        TFA stated this was a Chinease/American company based in the USA making the turbines... They will not be imported cheap chinease crap

        Is that an enzyme to digest East Asians?

  • by j0se_p0inter0 ( 631566 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:03AM (#29923211)
    ...where the hell are they going to put them? I'm sitting here in West Texas in an office of a major tower manufacturer; and we have 80 towers worth of sections sitting in our storage lot (which is being expanded) that the company purchasing them can't find a home for. A couple of sites have been proposed, but they fell through because it would cost too much to build the infrastructure to connect them to the grid. Now they're trying to find a site in a different state. And Mr. Pickens reportedly has 200 towers built that he can't site either, my favorite quote is "Well I damn sure can't put 'em up in my yard". So good luck to the Chinese I guess. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:24AM (#29923469) Homepage

      I don't know, but every time I drive out to West Texas on I-10, I see trucks carrying windmill parts, and I see more windmills on the plateaus visible from the highway. So somebody is finding places to put them. Or already owns suitable places and is occupying them over time. Maybe that's who the Chinese are selling to, and that's why that land isn't an available choice for your customer? I don't know.

    • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:12AM (#29924137) Homepage Journal

      Welcome to the country of whiners. Everyone here in the U.S. is all for solving problems unless it is going to inconvenience them for a half second.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Years ago I saw a documentary about a village on the Russian-Chinese border. The Russian farmers all were sitting around in the local bar all day drinking vodka and bitching about the Chinese traders making more money than they did. It never occurred to them that they could make the same amount of money if they were willing to actually work 14 hours a day in their own small business.

        The Russians had 70 years of communism as an excuse for not knowing about making your own way in the world without expecting a

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:03AM (#29923213)

    "No sir, I don't like it!"

  • Capacity Factor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by some_hoser ( 656003 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:03AM (#29923221)
    I hate how articles talking about renewable energy never take into account the capacity factor of the production. Wind is about 30% or so, so the real average output will be more like 200 MW, unlike a nuclear or other plant with a capacity factor of 90+%. Yet still, they will be compared on their MAX output, not the AVERAGE.
  • providing enough power to meet the electrical needs of around 150,000 American homes.

    California really are getting desperate. Also, that's a long cable; they'd better crank the voltage to reduce resistive loss...

    • by daybot ( 911557 ) *

      Bollocks - misread the summary. I thought it was saying they're building a wind farm in China.

  • 36,000 acres of turbines to power only 150,000 homes? Seems incredibly inefficient...
    • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:32AM (#29923569)
      That land can be used simultaneously for other things, like a farm. OR, We could accomplish the same thing with one (fairly small by modern standards) nuclear power plant AND use much less land. Your choice. Either is fine by me.
    • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @02:17PM (#29926775) Homepage Journal

      Efficency? Would you like fries with that? Cows can graze on the land the turbines sit on. There's a turbine smack-dab in the middle of a Wal*Mart parking lot two towns north of me. Turbines are fenced off with 100x100' fences, but other than that the 20 acres of "wind land" they use is up for grabs for agriculture, hunting lodges, parking lots etc.

  • Bah. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Penumbra ( 175042 )
    Wait, Texas EXPORTS windmills, mostly to the Netherlands. I see the blades going by rail to the port all the time. The Beaumont Enterprise lists what ships are in port with cargo and destination information.
  • ...using turbines made in China...

    Sigh...I knew the artificial inequities in trade - that is, the artificial difference in the cost of living and thus the wages you can get away with paying, the artificial differences in the cost of regulation, and the way the Chinese manipulate their currency to ensure they maintain a preeminent trade position - would result in the much-ballyhooed "green jobs" going to China.

    Am I the only person in America who sees a horribly bleak future for our children because of inequitable free trade and trickle-down

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by db32 ( 862117 )
      Then I would suggest making sure you are part of the 10%. For all the other asinine problems running around here, we do have a tremendous amount of upward mobility. There is a huge portion of that 90% that believes that they should be able to whine loud enough and someone else will come fix their problems in some fashion. Government handouts, corporate charity, whatever. Then on the top end, there is a bunch of worthless dead weight always waiting to be replaced. These are the guys with more money than
      • Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sean.peters ( 568334 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @12:19PM (#29925179) Homepage
        Because "making sure you're in the top 10%" is something you have total control over. It's not like the circumstances of your birth could possibly have anything to do with it. Here's a news flash: some substantial portion of the US wasn't born with silver spoons in their mouth. Their parents don't have enough money to send them to college, and in the absence of "government bailouts", it's all but impossible to afford to go on your own. How are people in this situation supposed to just make sure there in the top 10%? To say nothing of the fact that the top 10% is, well 10%. So you're perfectly ok with the idea that 90% of the population is going to spiral into poverty. Nice.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

          Here's a news flash: some substantial portion of the US wasn't born with silver spoons in their mouth. Their parents don't have enough money to send them to college, and in the absence of "government bailouts", it's all but impossible to afford to go on your own.

          Yet I know over a dozen people born without said silver spoon, who found a way to go to college anyhow.

          How are people in this situation supposed to just make sure there in the top 10%?

          You get off your ass and work and study. If that means 1

    • Right now, China is targetting America by tying their Yuan to the dollar. BUT, once they feel that we are down enough, then they will go after EU by tying to the Euro.
  • "Pickens Calls Off Massive Wind Farm In Texas" "Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday July 08, @12:35PM" http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/07/08/167212 [slashdot.org]
  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:29AM (#29923517)

    They're suppressing competition by undercutting prices. This is easy to do if you've got a low cost labor pool and government backing (both overt in the form of subsidies and covert in the form of silent ownership by senior Chinese government officials). All the better that you can seek (and probably get) tax breaks from the government of the very country who's industry you're looking to hobble with your low prices.

    That said, there's nothing wrong with buying Chinese generators if they meet quality and price requirements. But I think this is a case where the US government has lost sight of the football here. Assisting a foreign power with the task of gutting an industry that was pioneered in the US and that may be important in future green energy markets around the world seems extremely foolish and short sighted.

  • So these days we have a choice for every 36,000 acres: either build 150,000 structures to house 300,000+ mouths to feed, or build 240 turbines to power 150,000 structures housing 300,000+ hungry mouths somewhere else? Can we have an option (c) none of the above? I'd kinda like to just leave those 36,000 acres the hell alone.

  • I, for one, would like to welcome our chinese overlords.

    Its not that you are "new" - you are just finally starting to show your face.
  • Asian-American, please.
  • I can't be the only one that finds China supplying the US with technology to generate clean energy ironic.
  • Yes Obama, even green jobs are fungible.

  • by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:46AM (#29923775)

    Of course, it's because a developer in Texas can just buy the land and build a wind farm.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/weekinreview/18galbraith.html?_r=3 [nytimes.com]

    The irony is quite telling -- environmental regulations making it harder to build a renewable energy source. The most telling part of this (and recall that the New York Times was not a particular fan of this TX governor):

    But here again, Texas and California have behaved very differently. Texas set a strong renewable energy requirement back in 1999 (when George W. Bush was governor) -- and quickly exceeded it. Last year, 5 percent of the state's electricity came from wind power. California set a very high bar, requiring big utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources next year, although they are not expected to meet it.

    That is, measured purely by results, the track record of the state that doesn't give a shit is miles ahead of the state that makes a big complicated deal about caring.

    [ Aside: I'm not against environmental regulation by any means. At the very minimum, however, we ought to insist that the benefits a cleaner environment outweigh the costs of regulation. In cases like this where it seems like the regulations are actually counterproductive to the goals, well then the costs are truly wasted.]

  • by GuyFawkes ( 729054 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:52AM (#29923841) Homepage Journal

    The thing is, with electricity generation you have something known as "baseline demand" which you can think of as a water table or the level of the sea a low tide.

    You absolutely HAVE to have this generating capacity 24/365, no if's, but's or maybe's.

    The problem with wind (and solar, and wave, etc) is that generating capacity can be anywhere from zero on up, if there is no wind, or even just light winds, generating capacity is effectively zero.

    What this means is that if you are an electricity grid planner, it doesn't matter how much theoretical wind turbine generating capacity you have, NONE of it is applicable to your baseline demand.

    This means the only things that you can use for baseline demand are coal powered, oil powered, nuke powered or hydro powered "traditional" generating stations.

    The nature of "traditional" power stations is such that like the car doing 60mph down the freeway, there is a fair bit more power on tap, 24/365, so in fact, due to the nature of grid demand, by definition, the "traditional" power stations that are REQUIRED to meet baseline capacity can, in 99.9% of cases, ALSO supply peak demand (think of this as high tide).

    So, the ONLY thing you can use wind power for, assuming the wind is blowing, is peak demand.

    Now that you can only use it for peak demand, and given that you have an electrical grid, the only time you will ACTUALLY use one power source over another is if one is CHEAPER per giga-watt-hour than another.

    Fact is, wind power loses out here too, UNLESS you heavily subsidise it, and that is no longer a level playing field.

    The grid itself is also a problem, although a high tension grid can transfer useful power 1,000 miles, when you start talking about reasonable losses and efficiency in the grid, you are down to 250 miles, so it is not like you can put offshore wind farms *here* and connect them via the grid to a demand *here* 1,200 miles away, even with the wind power subsidies, it still does not make economic sense.

    All you have to remember, is this.

    The purpose of a wind turbine manufacturer is to sell wind turbines.

    They really could not care one way or another if the installed turbines make economic sense on a level playing field.

  • You know what they say about West Texas: the wind doesn't blow there -- it sucks!
  • That's back-of-the-envelope based on the summary. Does that strike anyone as high? Low?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sandbags ( 964742 )

      No, sounds low...

      considering only a 40 year generator lifespan, that's only $20/month to generate the power for a house. The transmission lines in the localized grids already exist, and this deployment includes the cost of the superconductor line to connect the new farm into the texas grid (and Obama is fronting the money under a seperate effort to tie the texas grid into the other 2 national grids on the north side of the state using the same tehcnology).

      Granted, about 50% of your monthly power bill is ma

  • If anything in this article is news its that its China and not some other country. Hopefully they are made better than most Chinese crap.

    I know I personally went on a tour of a new wind farm (just under 200MW, 86 2.3MW turbines I believe or something like that) on Wolfe Island in Ontario, Canada. Everything excepting the base infrastructure was make in Denmark, shipped to New York, then Barged to Ontario. They (Denmark) are world leaders in that technology, which is why they are shipped from there. They are

  • Folly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:08AM (#29924071) Homepage Journal

    This is another great example of why giving money or tax breaks to the biggest corporations is no longer a winning strategy to promote job growth. The multi-national corps have a world-wide market to pull labor from and are only forced to buy local labor for a few on-site jobs. This is why I believe they should stop ALL money going to huge multi-national corps (who have their own R&D money anyway) and focus on getting micro-loans to smaller businesses who can't offshore their work as easily. Start preferring the little guy trying to start something on a local corner by his house instead of a corporation that really has no home or loyalty whatsoever.

    I thought Obama wasn't going to fall into this trap of giving money to huge corps who are simply going buy cheap foreign labor. I guess I was wrong.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:29AM (#29924383) Homepage

    To put this into perspective:

    36,000 acres = 7.5 x 7.5 miles = 12.5 x 12.5 kilometers = the size of Walt Disney World

    Convert 36000 acres to square miles [wolframalpha.com]

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