The German research company Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has published a disappointing report on the use of coastal wind turbines. The results are stunning: because of the aggressiveness of the working environment, the cost of repairing turbines for the entire time they are in operation exceeds the cost of a new turbine by two orders of magnitude.
Renewable energy is one of the main themes of the 21st century. But so far, even with the price of oil at $ 100 per barrel (oh, that was the time), the cost of energy received from wind turbines and solar panels was not low enough. To promote green energy and reduce its cost at the expense of scale, some governments subsidize the development of this industry.
For example, in Germany now there are more than 25,000 wind turbines. Since 2011, nine nuclear power plants have already been closed, and currently in Germany only 16% of the total energy consumed is produced at nuclear power plants. But the wind turbine is a rather expensive device, and so far, without subsidies, its purchase does not make economic sense.
But even with subsidies, this investment turns out to be very long-term: in order for the cost of the turbine to pay off, and it began to bring profit, it is necessary to wait about 25 years. And all this time it needs to be repaired in order to keep it in working order.
Sea water and sea air are very corrosive to metals, with the result that significant amounts are spent on maintenance of wind turbines. As far as significant, it became known from the report of the Company: over the years of operation of the turbine, an amount that is 100 times higher than its initial cost can accumulate.
And if we consider that government subsidies are only for 20 years, and the utilization of the turbine is also very expensive, the operation of current offshore-based wind-generation systems looks like a very dubious enterprise.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to cover the surfaces with protective paint very often – if the color of a square meter of a surface turbine surface costs 20-30 euros, then due to the inaccessibility of coastal turbines, painting the same square meter can cost several thousand euros.
In this regard, researchers are working to solve the problem of the rapid degradation of wind turbines – in particular, the use of protection that will allow materials to last longer between painting periods. For example, it is proposed to glue the metal surfaces of wind turbines with a special protective film that will prevent the appearance of rust. But with the development of the film, too, there are difficulties – for example, you need to make sure that it simultaneously adheres well to the surface, and is easily separated before painting.
The Fraunhofer Society is the main association of German institutes for applied research. The works of the Company are aimed at the needs of the German economy, as well as the needs of the market – both German and foreign. Currently, approximately 17,000 Fraunhofer Society employees are concentrated in 80 scientific organizations, including 59 institutes in 40 cities of Germany, as well as branches and representative offices in the United States, European countries and Asia.