Is Wind Energy Becoming Too Expensive?

General Electric (GE) plans to make major job cuts in its U.S. wind operations and will consider its other markets too as windfarms are proving to be a major expense in the wake of Covid and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Continued supply chain disruption and the high cost of wind turbines are deterring companies from investing in wind energy, as they look for cheaper alternatives.  It’s a question that has been being asked for years – are wind and solar power more expensive and less reliable? The two renewable energy sources have been repeatedly criticised for their intermittent power provision. Meanwhile, as the prices of steel and other materials continue to rise, solar and wind farms are proving to be more expensive to construct than previously hoped.

The prices of solar and wind power had been decreasing as technological innovations were made, thanks to huge amounts of investment worldwide in research and development. But in the wake of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on global supply chains, the price of components has risen again and again. So, can the improved efficiency of wind turbine technology balance with rising material prices?

This month, reports suggested that GE would be laying off around 20 percent of its onshore wind workforce in the U.S., with employees in North America, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa being notified of changes to the company. An assessment of its Europe and Asia wind markets is expected to follow. Last week, GE employees received a letter stating, “We are taking steps to streamline and size our onshore wind business for market realities to position us for future success. These are difficult decisions, which do not reflect on our employees’ dedication and hard work but are needed to ensure the business can compete and improve profitability over time.” 

According to several sources, GE is planning to restructure and resize the business, citing weak demand, rising costs, and supply-chain delays as the primary challenges. GE confirmed it was “streamlining” its onshore wind operations, although has the firm has not commented on job cuts. A GE Renewables spokesperson stated: “These are difficult decisions, which do not reflect on our employees’ dedication and hard work but are needed to ensure the business can compete and improve profitability over time.” – READ MORE

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