Posts tagged ‘Wind Power’

New State-by-State Wind Power Data Helps Build a Green Grid

New wind resource maps and wind potential tables for the lower 48 states were recently released by AWS Truewind in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). This new data marks the first state-by-state comprehensive update of wind energy potential since 1993. Accurate information about the wind resources available in each state will help keep the momentum in wind energy development going strong in 2010. If state and federal policies need valid evidence of wind potential to promote this clean energy source, then that data has arrived.

We know that wind power is an inexhaustible source of energy that can play a large part in creating a sustainable future, but there are real-life factors that keep this resource grounded. Transmission and storage of the generated energy requires a modern power infrastructure that is expensive and controversial. Additionally, developers need a stable policy environment if they are expected to commit to long-term projects with tremendous up-front costs. But no wind-power skeptic can spend a few days in Texas and claim that wind is not a viable solution to our future energy woes — just check the new map.

At the 80-meter height, the estimated wind energy potential of available development sites yield 10,459GW (gigawatts) of installed capacity. The new estimates are available on the AWS Truewind website and the NREL website. The current installed wind capacity in the US is 35GW and 158GW world-wide. In 2009, the U.S. wind industry added about 10GW of new capacity, enough to power the equivalent of 2.4 million homes.

The maps and estimates were created with a weather modeling system and then refined with measurements from wind monitoring stations. The NREL has already conducted a preliminary review and validation of the AWS Truewind’s 80 meter map estimates for 19 selected states across the US using wind monitoring station measurements at heights of about 50 meters and above from more than 300 locations. The estimates show the windy land area with a gross capacity factor (without losses) of 30% and greater. Capacity factor compares a turbine’s actual production over a given period of time with the amount of power the plant would have produced if it had run at full capacity, or at full sail, for the same amount of time.

An important consideration for wind energy is its dependency on variable but predictable weather patterns

. For example, average US wind speeds in 2009 were up to 10% lower than their long-term averages in key locations, and they were slightly higher in others. This significant difference was caused by the El Niño climate fluctuation. 3Tier, a renewable energy mapping and data solutions company, provides a visualization of these fluctuations. But wind is not the only renewable that is affected by weather patterns: Solar and hydroelectric power resources are in the same boat.

Large-scale wind power projects need more than just good data on placement locations. They need a way to tie into the grid and sell that clean wind energy to big urban markets. Currently, this is a significant factor affecting the viability of many wind power projects. A speedy transition to a clean energy economy needs a Renewable Energy Transmission Highway, and this is one of the legislative priorities of the American Wind Energy Association. While an improved transmission grid might conjure up images of even more ghastly metal towers criss-crossing the US, there is a better alternative. Underground super-cooled transmission lines can efficiently transmit electricity when they are refrigerated, and the cost per mile is comparable to the standard above-ground transmission cables. However, this technology requires substations about every mile in order to keep the coolant cold, so it is best for shorter distances. Another technology instead uses direct current (DC) for a high-temperature underground superconducting transmission system. The Electric Power Research Institute recently released a report that indicates the high-temperature superconducting lines are a practical and efficient way to improve electric grids.

The large-scale concept of renewable energy calls for an interconnected, national renewable energy infrastructure so that wind, solar, and hydro developers and utilities can plug in. Others see long-distance transmission as expensive and unnecessary and promote local power generation and storage solutions. The local-power proponents point out that utility companies are lobbying for new transmission lines because they want to sell power regardless of its source. The actual solution that will emerge over the next decade is likely going to be a combination of local and imported power. The utilities themselves foresee a future “hybrid” model of power generation by 2050 that includes both centralized and distributed models. This will create a reliable, efficient, and well-balanced national grid so that the electrons will flow come rain or shine. Some areas of the United States are ideal for wind, while others barely squeeze by that minimum 30% gross capacity factor. For some cities, local power generation simply won’t cut it if there is any chance of weaning the united states off of coal power plants.

Article continues:


May 4, 2010 at 9:44 AM Leave a comment

Sea Wind Power

To this date there is not a single offshore wind turbine been built in the United States. Meanwhile Europe, China and Japan are far along in developing a water based wind power industry. All one needs is a strong and steady wind as well as a relatively easy way to connect o the power grid so as to transmit the power gained from the wind. Most people think of wind power from various land based operations. However, it can be done by basing the wind turbine in the sea.

A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used for production of electric power. Individual turbines are interconnected with a medium voltage power collection system and communications network. At a substation, this medium voltage electrical current is increased in voltage with a transformer for connection to the high voltage transmission system.

Near shore turbine installations are on land within 5 miles of a shoreline or on water within ten miles. These areas are good sites for turbine installation, because of wind produced by convection due to differential heating of land and sea each day. Wind speeds in these zones share the characteristics of both onshore and offshore wind,depending on the prevailing wind direction.

Offshore wind turbines are less obtrusive than turbines on land, as their apparent size and noise is mitigated by distance. Because water has less surface roughness than land (especially deeper water), the average wind speed is usually considerably higher over open water.

Spain, Denmark, and Germany are Europe’s main wind energy producers. A large wind farm may consist of a few dozen to several hundred individual wind turbines, and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. A wind farm may be located off-shore to take advantage of strong winds blowing over the surface of an ocean or lake.

The United States is behind in developing sea based wind farms for many reasons: economic and regulatory uncertainties, local opposition (not in my backyard), and even the relative bounty of cheaper land based wind power resources have all conspired to slow any drive to develop wind power resources on the sea.

One of the proposed projects is the Long Island — New York City Offshore Wind Project. The proposed project would be located in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 13 nautical miles off the Rockaway Peninsula. It would likely be designed for 350 megawatts (MW) of generation, with the ability to expand it to 700 MW, giving it the potential to be the largest offshore wind project in the country.

The Cape Wind project would lie in the Nantucket Sound off New England. It has been debated for nine years. Some believed the proposed wind farm would cause visual harm to historic sites.

The beleaguered Cape Wind project, which has been struggling to overcome these obstacles for the better part of a decade and now awaits a decision from the Interior Department, is seen as a bellwether for the industry.

Canada may end up with the first North American sea based wind farm.

“Canada is actually in a pretty good place right now,”� said Matthew Kaplan, a senior analyst with Emerging Energy Research, a market research firm based in Cambridge, Mass. Mr. Kaplan pointed to the generous incentives for renewable energy development that provincial leaders in Ontario put in place last fall.

This month the Ontario Power Authority announced that it had, in just a few months after introducing the increased incentives, awarded contracts worth $8 billion for development of some 2,500 megawatts of new renewable energy projects — or roughly the capacity of two midsized nuclear power plants.  Among the beneficiaries is Windstream Energy, which plans to build a 300-megawatt wind facility on about 48,000 acres of shallow water near Wolfe Island (Great Lakes region).

The Wall Street Journal noted last week that both sides of the Great Lakes are ripe for wind power development — but whether Windstream, Cape Wind or some other developer will prove to be the first to get an offshore project up and running on this continent remains anybody’s guess.

None of these projects are going tio be running soon. At best it might occur by 2012.

For more click HERE

April 28, 2010 at 9:25 AM Leave a comment

The clean, green desert

It’s an environmental catch-22. California needs to meet its aggressive goals for renewable-energy production, but solar and wind farms require lots of space. The farms’ land gobbling can conflict with one of Californians’ most cherished values: the preservation of pristine wilderness and animal habitat. As the state gets serious about increasing its renewable-energy portfolio, there’s going to be tension.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is learning that the hard way. As the author of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act (which established the wildly popular Joshua Tree National Park), she was the natural author for the California Desert Protection Act of 2010. The bill would place nearly 1 million acres of the Mojave Desert off limits for development.

It would also fund a new renewable-energy permitting office and seek to expedite permitting for renewable-energy projects on lands deemed more suitable for development, but those changes seem like small potatoes when compared to the vast amount of land that will suddenly be off limits. The Bureau of Land Management is currently evaluating about 120 solar and wind projects in the region, and a handful of those would have to be tossed out under Feinstein’s bill. The developers are crying foul.

Their anger is understandable. It’s no cinch to get a renewable-energy project approved at any stage of the process right now. Transmission corridors – needed to ferry the energy from farms to houses – are in short supply. The permitting process can take up to a decade. There are long lists of environmental studies to conduct, and then there’s the small matter of finding available land where the neighbors won’t put up a fight about their views or their property values. The cost of all of this, in money and time, can be overwhelming. It shouldn’t be this hard.

Feinstein’s staff told us that the affected developers will be given first right of refusal on “developable” lands, and that the bill’s plan to streamline permitting will help other developers going forward. She’s already tweaked the bill to make it a little more developer-friendly, and she may need to do so again. It would be helpful, for instance, if the bill contained steps to directly help developers locate viable sites.

But Feinstein’s bill still trumps the developers’ angst, and for a variety of reasons. For one thing, a quarter of the acreage was donated to the federal government with the expectation that it would be preserved. Washington needs to meet that responsibility.

For another thing, there’s still more than enough developable desert available. California has more than 20 million acres of desert. The California Energy Commission estimates that we’ll only need between 100,000 and 160,000 acres of desert to meet our goal of having 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. Of course, if California wants to be a leader in this field, we’ll develop far more than that for export to other states – but even then, the well is hardly going dry.

So while Feinstein will need to make adjustments to her bill, she’s still on the right track. There is a way to balance conservation and renewable energy production, and we’re discovering it right now.

This article appeared on page A – 9 of the San Francisco Chronicle

January 27, 2010 at 3:25 PM Leave a comment

Wind Power Grows 39% for the Year

Despite a crippling recession and tight credit markets, the American wind power industry grew at a blistering pace in 2009, adding 39 percent more capacity. The country is close to the point where 2 percent of its electricity will come from wind turbines.

While that is still a small share, it is up from virtually nothing a few years ago. Continued growth at such a fast pace could help the nation lower its emissions of the gases that cause global warming.

Click HERE for full story.

January 26, 2010 at 10:21 AM Leave a comment

Wind Energy could be big in eastern US

Wind energy could generate 20 percent of the electricity needed by households and businesses in the eastern half of the United States by 2024, but it would require up to $90 billion in investment, according to a government report released on Wednesday.

Wind Power

For the 20 percent wind scenario to work, billions must be spent on installing wind towers on land and sea and about 22,000 miles of new high-tech power lines to carry the electricity to cities, according to the study from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

“Twenty percent wind is an ambitious goal,” said David Corbus, the project manager for the study. “We can bring more wind power online, but if we don’t have the proper infrastructure to move that power around, it’s like buying a hybrid car and leaving it in the garage,”

The private sector cannot fund all the needed spending, so a big chunk would have to come from the federal government through programs such as loan guarantees, Corbus said.

The Obama administration is already dedicating billions of dollars to double the amount of electricity produced by wind and other renewables energy sources by January 2012.

The amount of U.S. electricity generated by wind was up 29 percent during January-October of last year compared to the same period is 2008, according to the Energy Department.

Article continues HERE

January 25, 2010 at 10:24 AM Leave a comment

Renewables To Supply One-Third Of China’s Energy By 2050

China’s renewable energy strategy through 2050 envisions renewable energy making up one-third of its energy consumption by then, the China Daily said, as the upcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change highlights the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Coal-dependent China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, last month said it would cut the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each yuan of national income by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared to 2005 levels.

Depending on economic growth projections, total emissions will still rise.

By 2020, renewable energy should account for 15 percent of national primary energy consumption, supplying the equivalent of 600 million metric tons of coal, the China Daily said this weekend.

It cited a renewable energy blueprint laid out by Han Wenke, director-general of the Energy Research Institute under top planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission.

By 2030, renewable energy’s share should rise to 20 percent of the national energy mix, displacing 1 billion metric tons of coal, Han said, and by 2050, it would supply one-third of China’s energy, displacing two billion metric tons of coal, the paper said.

China’s drive for renewable energy to mitigate the health and environmental costs of coal has brought its own challenges.

Wind power generating capacity has surged so fast that policy planners now warn of severe overcapacity in the sector, and dam after dam piled on Chinese rivers distorts water flow, endangers fish and poses a potential earthquake hazard.

China’s installed wind power capacity is now 12.17 million kilowatts, up from 350,000 kw in 2000, and large-scale solar energy facilities are planned, the paper said.

China is focusing on non-grain bioethanol and biodiesel, to avoid diverting grains from food and feed supply.

December 7, 2009 at 10:26 AM Leave a comment

Wind power could make Norway “Europe’s battery”

Norway could become “Europe’s battery” by developing huge sea-based wind parks costing up to $44 billion by 2025, Norway’s Oil and Energy Minister said on Monday.

Norway’s Energy Council, comprising business leaders and officials, said green exports could help the European Union reach a goal of getting 20 percent of its electricity by 2020 from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydro or wave power.

“Norway could be Europe’s battery,” Oil and Energy Minister Aaslaug Haga told Reuters after she was handed the report, which will be considered by the centre-left government in coming months.

Minister Aaslaug Haga

“The thinking is that Norway is blessed, is lucky, to have big energy resources. There is undoubtedly a large potential for wind power,” she said. Norway says it has the longest coastline in Europe, from the North Sea to the Arctic Barents Sea.

The 30-page report, mapping out a big shift for the world’s number 5 oil exporter, said: “Norway ought to have access to up to 40 terrawatt hours of renewable energy in 2020-2025, of which about half would come from offshore wind power.”

Sufficient wind parks — totalling 5,000 to 8,000 megawatts installed capacity — would cost between 100 billion Norwegian and 220 billion Norwegian crowns ($43.89 billion) assuming prices of 20-28 million crowns per installed megawatt.

The energy would be equivalent to up to about eight nuclear power plants. Norway pumps about 2.2 million barrels of oil per day — $44 billion represents the value of about half a year’s output.



Haga said offshore wind parks — which would stop on calm days — could be supplemented by hydro-power reservoirs which can be turned on and off to turn them into a battery storing power. Norway has about half Europe’s reservoir capacity.

“We can deliver a product whether the wind is blowing or not,” she said. Haga will meet EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs in Brussels on Thursday, partly to discuss the report.

It said Norway still needed new laws, competitive subsidies and more infrastructure. Norway sometimes has problems supplying even its own electricity needs with its existing hydro-power.

And it said that Denmark, Germany and Britain had done much more to develop wind power, both on land and in shallow waters. Norway’s advantage was wide experience from deeper offhore oil and gas installations.

StatoilHydro (STL.OL: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said last week that it will invest $80 million to build the world’s first full-scale floating wind turbine to start up in 2009. Power from such installations is likely to be more costly than on land.

The report said that Norway would have to agree long-term wind supply contracts with EU countries, including access to EU subsidies. But Haga also said: “I don’t expect Europe to subsidise Norwegian wind power producion.”

“It’s not a first choice to import power,” said Steinar Bysveen, who led the report. He said EU nations such as Germany might need imports because of a lack of space to build wind parks at home and plans to phase out nuclear power.

The Energy Council report said that 40 terrawatt hours of electricity from wind could cut 20 million tonnes of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for stoking global warming. Norway’s 2007 emissions were 55 million tonnes.

November 4, 2009 at 12:24 PM Leave a comment

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