Aruba is a very nice tourist destination. It has sun, sand and water. It also has trade winds, which lash the eastern shore with heavy waves. These winds are the energy source for the Vader Piet wind farm, on Aruba's southeast shore.
Vader Piet exists because of a coup of clever financing. Arranged during the credit crisis of 2008, Jerome Guillet managed to get the turbine vendor (Vestas) to back the deal. According to what I can find, the project was completed in just over a year and went live in December 2009.
If everyone lived happily ever after, they're being awfully quiet about it. I've done quite a bit of digging, but I can't find many generation figures for Vader Piet. The follow-on wind farm that was rumored to be in planning has generated absolutely zero news that I've been able to discover. Maybe it's just not in English, and is escaping my American-tuned search engine nets.
Or maybe it's just that these things don't exist.
The IEA has next to zero useful information on the former Netherlands Antilles, beyond the fact that their electric generation is entirely oil-fired
. That makes it easier to interpret the EIA data, which has a specific page on Aruba
I recall rumors that the winds on Aruba allow a wonderfully high capacity factor, around 60%. The 30 MW (10x 3 MW Vestas turbines) farm was expected to produce 18 MW average
. In its first year, it didn't do quite so well. Between June 1 2010 and May 8 2011, Vader Piet produced as much as 60.8% and as little as 11.0% of monthly capacity, for an average of 41.5%
. That's an average of about 12.45 MW, or 109 GWh/yr. Net generation rose slightly over the 2008-2012 interval, but not much:
109 GWh/yr is a big chunk of energy on a grid that produces just 920 GWh/yr. At 30% efficiency, it's equivalent to 41.5 MW thermal or about 590 bbl/day of oil at 6.1 GJ/bbl. That is about 20% of Aruba's net oil imports. Do we see this happen between 2009 and 2010? Not as I read the EIA data (which doesn't seem to be available as tables for some reason):
We get a significant drop, but not a very big one... and it doesn't seem to coincide with the year 2010.
There's a further confounding effect for Aruba: in the same period as the Vater Piet installation, the island was installing some "RECIP" plants to increase the efficiency of the oil-fired electric generation. This is probably what accounts for the other 140 MW of the 170 MW increase in nameplate generating capacity over the last few years. How much of the decrease was due to better efficiency of the oil-burning generators, versus displacement by wind? This page claims 30% greater efficiency of the new diesels vs. the old steam turbines
. That would produce the observed efficiency increase all by itself.
If wind is going to replace fossil fuels and eliminate carbon emissions, there should be few places it would work better than Aruba. Despite this, the evidence that it is working in Aruba is spotty at best. That is a mighty slim reed on which to hang the continued existence of industrial civilization and a liveable climate.