Warren Buffett buys $1 billion of wind turbines, the biggest land-based wind power purchase ever
With every passing day, clean energy becomes cheaperSince 2009, the price of wind turbines has fallen 26%, which brings the purely financial cost of wind power within 5.5% of the cost of electricity from coal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. But we know that the true cost of coal isn't just the monetary cost of the power plant and the fuel. There are also big environmental costs, from air pollution to screwing up with our planet's climate and soil and water contamination issues both at the coal mine and at the location where fly ash is stored after the coal has been burned (remember the TVA coal ash spill a few years ago?).
If there's a man who can smell an opportunity, it's billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett. His utility company, owned by his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, has just ordered 1,050 megawatts of Siemens AG (SIE) wind turbines for around $1 billion. That's the biggest purchase of wind power equipment for land-based turbines (offshore prices are higher because of the extra complexity of building the turbines -- but once built, they produce more power). The turbines will be installed in Iowa, a windy state where wind power is already the cheapest source of electricity.
This just furthers Buffett's lead in wind power, as MidAmerican, which is part of Berkshire, is already #1 in the US.
MidAmerican is investing a total of $1.9 billion in five wind projects.
Growing demand for wind power will offset waning use of fossil fuels, said MidAmerican Energy CEO Bill Fehrman. This order for 448 turbines follows a December 2010 agreement to use 258 Siemens turbines for other projects in Iowa. [...] One of the five Iowa wind farms, the 44-megawatt Vienna II project, is already in operation. The company expects another 506 megawatts of turbines to begin producing power next year and the rest will go online in 2015, Fehrman said. (source)
MidAmerican expects to close some coal-powered plants in 2015 as the price of wind power continues to slide, said Adam Wright, vice president of wind generation and development for MidAmerican’s Iowa utility.