ron and short, I decided to think about this a little.
Ok, just by coincidence today I was working at a plant to inspect some new boilers which where just installed and the engineer I was working with just wrote a paper about their wind turbine. Now understand that he is very pro wind turbines but Iíve known him for a while and he is very honest. Here is what he tells me about their wind turbine:
700KW 4 Years old and cost then $1,000,000. In 4 years it has only required normal preventive maintenance and no other repairs. It is in a very windy location, located on a canal where the wind is funneled down from the bay. Their wind turbine averages 150KW per day. In other words sometimes it runs at 700KW and sometimes a lot less. Itís generator turns at 1800 rpmís and it uses a speed increaser gear which seems to work well. They claim it saves them $250,000 a year in electrical cost.
Now when questioned he informed me that it was half paid for by the Federal Gov. and because it is a state school the State paid the other half. Therefore there is no interest expense on the initial capital. It is set on their land right near a very handy place to tie into the grid for the school. Therefore no land purchase and fees, easy construction and the 13KV cable from the turbine had to go a very short distance to the transformer where it was tied into the existing grid. (about 100 ft. from the base of the turbine) It is not operated for a profit so they do not need a return on capital and basically has no need for any permanent employees to service or inspect the turbine it is done by contract. There is no need to read meters or take care of transmission lines as the normal electric supplier does all of that.
Letís make some assumptions. From the above as a base how much capacity would San Pedro would need? Donít forget the 21% average daily produced. Capital cost per KW would be more I would think because this was based on prices of 4 years ago. There would have to be a return on investment I would think. Money would be borrowed so there would be interest expense. Of course construction over water would be much more expensive. Transmission costs also would be much more because of longer distances and underwater cable. This type of an operation would require employees, monitoring and costs I probably canít think of off hand. I would say that initial expense would be double, triple or more. How would this kinds of expenditure be feasible? What would be the life of these turbies in the environment of salt air and such? Ok, kick this around and tell me if I wrong. Iím an engineer but I am not in design and construction of wind turbines so these are all educated guesses about the problems involved. Also, and this is important, remember that backup in needed around the clock and would have to be maintained, whether that be transmission lines and gear from Mexico or the local plant. The back up would be used frequently due to the vagrancies of the wind. I have worked in and around power plants for over 45 years so I donít think Iím completely out of whack here.
Somewhere on a beach in Belize