Offshore Wind vs Onshore

SL Advisors Talks Markets
SL Advisors Talks Markets
Offshore Wind vs Onshore







/

A couple of weeks ago in Windpower Faces a Tempest, we highlighted the challenges facing offshore wind both in the US and Europe. A good friend of mine, a lawyer who has made his career doing energy deals, took issue with the blog post. A spirited text message interaction ensued, continued in person over two rounds of golf together this weekend.

Most lawyers are proficient debaters. Our younger daughter is heading to law school, perhaps inspired by my observation that she never loses an argument, just runs out of time. My legal friend eloquently argued his case in between parring most holes, challenging me to match him on two dimensions. My putting suggests I was more focused on the shortcomings of windpower.

In the blog post, I used offshore windpower examples to illustrate the challenges facing the industry. The US is almost all onshore wind, where the economics are better. Offshore windpower is more common in other countries such as the UK. I was criticized for conflating challenged US offshore wind with far larger and generally successful onshore.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes data on windpower generation by state. In 2022 five states in the central US (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas) were responsible for half our output.

The Administration has a goal of adding 30GW of offshore windpower by 2030. The US Department of Energy reports that 52 Gigawatts of offshore windower is in development, half of which is off the coasts of New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. These are the economically challenged projects highlighted in the earlier blog post, and also by RBN Energy (see When The Wind Blows – Potential Project Cancellations Highlight Difficulties For Offshore Wind). Less than 1 GW is under construction. The struggles of many offshore projects are threatening the 30GW goal.

The US has 145GW of installed onshore windpower capacity. The EIA reports that wind provides around 10% of our electricity, with natural gas at 40%. According to the Energy Institute’s Statistical Review of World Energy, renewables (mostly solar and wind) provided 8.8% of America’s primary energy last year, up from 8% in 2021. Renewables are growing, but past energy transitions took decades and so will this one. Natural gas rose from 32.2% to 33.1%. Renewables’ % growth rate is much higher, but America’s biggest source of added energy last year was natural gas.

The intermittency of solar and wind remains a significant obstacle at higher levels of grid penetration. If weather-dependent energy is 5% of your power supply a calm cloudy day doesn’t much matter, but at increased levels it becomes part of the baseload. Electricity needs to be available 100% of the time. Batteries are becoming part of the solution, as are natural gas power plants because they can adjust their power output fairly easily. But the low costs sometimes floated for renewables often ignore the needed backup.

Germany, which generates a fifth of its primary energy from renewables, is an example of the consequent high energy prices that accompany such policies. California is another. Within the US there’s no clear link between windpower penetration and electricity prices. Iowa gets over half its power from wind and enjoys relatively cheap electricity. It must be a reliably windy place.

By contrast, solar power does tend to correlate with higher prices. It’s not just California (18% solar) but states such as Massachusetts and Vermont where one would think their northern latitudes render them unattractive locations. Prices are even more clearly linked with a state’s politics. Red states have cheaper power than blue ones.

Why would anyone want to live in a place that relies on intermittent power.

It’s not just climate extremists pushing the narrative that renewables are the complete solution to our energy needs. Liberal states such as New York and Massachusetts pursue policies that impede additional natural gas use. The Bay state has among the dumbest energy policies around. Six years ago Enbridge gave up on their Access Northeast natural gas pipeline, which would have supplied New England with cheap Marcellus gas, because of unsupportive policies in the region. Nonetheless, last year 77% of electricity in Massachusetts came from gas, almost 2X the US average. Some of it was imported expensively from foreign countries as LNG.

If we face an existential climate threat these fanatics should also embrace nuclear power as a vital solution. Finding a place to store nuclear waste remains unresolved, and costs are currently prohibitive. Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear plant started operations in March, years late and at $35BN cost double the original estimate. But France gets 32% of its primary energy from nuclear. America is 7.6%. The global figure is 4%. We should emulate the French.

My learned friend and I agreed on much, including that natural gas will be a significant energy source for the foreseeable future. But he was right to note that US offshore wind is a trivial source of power today. Next time I’m putting for the win he’ll probably distract me with a positive comment about renewables. I’m betting I’ll still make it.

We three have funds that seek to profit from this environment:

Energy Mutual Fund

Energy ETF

Inflation Fund

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
SL Advisors Talks Markets
SL Advisors Talks Markets
Offshore Wind vs Onshore
/

Important Disclosures

The information provided is for informational purposes only and investors should determine for themselves whether a particular service, security or product is suitable for their investment needs. The information contained herein is not complete, may not be current, is subject to change, and is subject to, and qualified in its entirety by, the more complete disclosures, risk factors and other terms that are contained in the disclosure, prospectus, and offering. Certain information herein has been obtained from third party sources and, although believed to be reliable, has not been independently verified and its accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. No representation is made with respect to the accuracy,  completeness or timeliness of this information. Nothing provided on this site constitutes tax advice. Individuals should seek the advice of their own tax advisor for specific information regarding tax consequences of investments.  Investments in securities entail risk and are not suitable for all investors. This site is not a recommendation nor an offer to sell (or solicitation of an offer to buy) securities in the United States or in any other jurisdiction.

References to indexes and benchmarks are hypothetical illustrations of aggregate returns and do not reflect the performance of any actual investment. Investors cannot invest in an index and do not reflect the deduction of the advisor’s fees or other trading expenses. There can be no assurance that current investments will be profitable. Actual realized returns will depend on, among other factors, the value of assets and market conditions at the time of disposition, any related transaction costs, and the timing of the purchase. Indexes and benchmarks may not directly correlate or only partially relate to portfolios managed by SL Advisors as they have different underlying investments and may use different strategies or have different objectives than portfolios managed by SL Advisors (e.g. The Alerian index is a group MLP securities in the oil and gas industries. Portfolios may not include the same investments that are included in the Alerian Index. The S & P Index does not directly relate to investment strategies managed by SL Advisers.)

This site may contain forward-looking statements relating to the objectives, opportunities, and the future performance of the U.S. market generally. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of such words as; “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “should,” “planned,” “estimated,” “potential” and other similar terms. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, estimates with respect to financial condition, results of operations, and success or lack of success of any particular investment strategy. All are subject to various factors, including, but not limited to general and local economic conditions, changing levels of competition within certain industries and markets, changes in interest rates, changes in legislation or regulation, and other economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory and technological factors affecting a portfolio’s operations that could cause actual results to differ materially from projected results. Such statements are forward-looking in nature and involves a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, and accordingly, actual results may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in such forward-looking statements. Prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements or examples. None of SL Advisors LLC or any of its affiliates or principals nor any other individual or entity assumes any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, subsequent events or any other circumstances. All statements made herein speak only as of the date that they were made. r

Certain hyperlinks or referenced websites on the Site, if any, are for your convenience and forward you to third parties’ websites, which generally are recognized by their top level domain name. Any descriptions of, references to, or links to other products, publications or services does not constitute an endorsement, authorization, sponsorship by or affiliation with SL Advisors LLC with respect to any linked site or its sponsor, unless expressly stated by SL Advisors LLC. Any such information, products or sites have not necessarily been reviewed by SL Advisors LLC and are provided or maintained by third parties over whom SL Advisors LLC exercise no control. SL Advisors LLC expressly disclaim any responsibility for the content, the accuracy of the information, and/or quality of products or services provided by or advertised on these third-party sites.

All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment will be suitable or profitable for a client’s investment portfolio.

Past performance of the American Energy Independence Index is not indicative of future returns.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.