Unbelievable. Stimulus money is being used to buy Chinese made wind turbines.
Construction of the $1.5 billion wind farm would be funded largely by Chinese financiers, with an assist from the United States government in the form of loan guarantees and grants from the federal stimulus package.....
The project would mark the first instance of a Chinese manufacturer exporting wind turbines to the United States market, according to Shenyang vice mayor Yang Yazhou, who spoke during a press conference announcing the joint venture.....
The farm is to be built 36,000 acres in western Texas — an exact location was not specified — and will use 240 2.5 megawatt turbines manufactured in China. Construction is slated to begin in March 2010. The project is expected to create 300 temporary construction jobs, and roughly 30 permanent jobs.
Over the last summer, the Chinese government has been trying to squeeze down on exports of rare earth metals, an essential component in many new "greener" technologies like hybrid cars and windmills. Up until the 1990s, a mine at Mountain Pass, California supplied the US, and production of the magnets was handled by Magnuequench factory in Indiana. This factory was sold to the Chinese, so that the US now had little ability to make these magnets. This is the same Magnequench that Obama bashed Clinton on during the primaries.
Currently, China produces 95% of the world's rare earth metal supply, after having driven the Mountain Pass mine out of business. There are smaller mines in operation in Australia, but the larger of these (Lynas) was bought out by China Non-Ferrous, a state owned firm, earlier this year. The Chinese now control something like 99% of the production of the raw materials for the manufacture of rare earth magnets. Over the last year, they've cut the permitted exports of this to Japan, squeezing that country's ability to produce hybrid vehicles like the Prius.
Rare earth metals are also an important component in wind turbines. The Chinese have an industrial policy that is targeted at establishing dominance in the production of hybrid vehicles, and now wind turbines. The nacelle, containing the generator and the working components of the machine is where the money is at. Take a look at the specs for a Vestas 2MW model:
Height for transport 4 m
(including CoolerTop) 5.4 m
Length 10.4 m
Width 3.4 m
Weight 69 metric tonnes
Clocking in at just over 76 tons, transport is expensive. But if you get it down to assemblies, you're probably looking at something between $4,000-8,000 plus overland costs. The margins here get interesting if we see a return to the high sea transport costs of last year, but you're talking about a product that's going to make up 60-80% of the value of a fully built turbine that's in the range of $1.5-2 million.
Chinese control of rare earth metals and magnet production is going to give them something of the same pull with our government that oil exporting states have now. This needs to be nipped in the bud now, our it's going to bite us in the ass real soon.
What use is a "green" jobs revolution, if all the value is added overseas, and our guys job is to unpack the crates and assemble the pieces?
How the hell did this thing get past the Buy America provisions of the Stimulus bill?