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Industry: Wind Energy
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  Still depending on government support

Still depending on government support

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  Loss of World's Biggest Wind Farm a Blow to Wind Energy

In July 2009 T. Boone Pickens downsized his plans to spend about $10 billion on a 4 gigawatt wind farm in Texas due to falling financial markets and natural gas prices.

The project was initially supported by hedge funds that Pickens managed, which in July 2008 were worth about $4 billion, but have plummeted in one year to about $1.5 billion. Wind power was also much more attractive when natural gas sold for $9 per British thermal unit and now in July 2009 is closer to $4 per unit. Lack of transmission capacity was also sighted as a reason to abandon the project. Lines with expanded capacity cost between $2-4 million per mile and although the Public Utility Commission in Texas planned to invest $5 billion in transmission lines, they would not have reached the proposed wind farm.[1]

A large failure like this will slow down wind expansion and make investors weary about large projects. Also, decreases in fuel prices and energy demand will force the reexamination of the financial benefits of wind energy as compared to fossil fuels.

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2 votes

  Wind's big financiers are going broke

The recession is hitting the wind industry hard in 3 ways:

  1. Governments are seeing shrinking budgets and pressure to divert funds away from research.
  2. Big investors in the industry like Lehman, AIG, and Wachovia have gone bankrupt, been bought, or are just plain suffering. Without money the capital intensive industry can't do much.
  3. The banks are tightening credit. The industry already had small margins. Rising interest expense is making the situation worse.
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  Requires too much infrastructure

It takes so much land and raw materials to build wind turbines that it's hard to scale wind farming effectively.

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