Posts tagged ‘Wind Turbines’

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

A Grid of Wind Turbines to Pick Up the Slack

Like most other sources of alternative energy, the wind can be intermittent. It does not blow uniformly, so power output from wind turbines rises and falls. And when the wind doesn’t blow at all, output drops to zero.

Intermittency is not much of a problem now in the United States, since there are relatively few wind farms and plenty of interconnected conventional power plants to pick up the slack when wind output falls, keeping the power supply stable. But if the proportion of electricity supplied by wind were to grow to, say, 20 percent or more, it would become increasingly difficult to handle the fluctuations in output.

One proposed solution to the intermittency problem is to tie many wind farms together with a transmission line — making an electric grid, as it were, consisting of wind turbines. Now, Willett Kempton of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration at the University of Delaware and colleagues have shown how this “all-for-one” approach might work with offshore wind farms along the Eastern Seaboard.

The researchers looked at five years of wind data from 11 sites from Maine to Florida, and calculated potential hourly power output for a typical turbine at each site. As they write in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they found that, as expected, fluctuating wind conditions caused power output to rise and fall at each site and sometimes reach zero.

But since wind conditions can differ greatly over the 1,500 miles of coastal ocean, when the researchers simulated connecting all the sites with a high-voltage undersea transmission line, the overall output became much more stable — reaching full or low power less often and never, over the five years studied, reaching zero power.

No offshore wind farms have been built yet, though several are in the planning stages. Operators would then have to agree to build the undersea transmission line, which could cost well over a billion dollars. “But the whole idea is that it would pay off over time,” Dr. Kempton said.

Click HERE for article

April 14, 2010 at 8:40 AM Leave a comment

China outpaces EU and U.S. with new wind turbines

China nearly doubled its wind capacity in 2009 with 13 gigawatts of new generating capacity, compared to 10.5 gigawatts in Europe and 9.9 gigawatts in the United States.

Overall, the global industry employed around half a million people as it boosted capacity by 31 percent to 158 gigawatts.

“The continued rapid growth of wind power, despite the financial crisis and economic downturn, is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology,” GWEC secretary general Steve Sawyer said.

China has been criticized in many countries for its cautious stance at unsuccessful U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen in December, but it has not slowed its development of green power at home.

“The Chinese government is taking very seriously its responsibility to limit carbon dioxide emissions while providing energy for its growing economy,” said Li Junfeng, secretary general of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.

The prospect of fossil fuel prices soaring as industry hauls itself out of the current economic crisis has bolstered the investment case for wind energy, said Christian Kjaer, chief executive of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“Oil at around $75 in the middle of an economic crisis is unprecedented,” he told reporters. “If I were an investor, I’d want to limit my exposure to uncertain fuel prices.”

In a normal year, European wind farms will meet around 4.8 percent of total power demand, EWEA said. Spain installed the most new turbines in 2009, with 2.5 gigawatts, followed by Germany, Italy, France and Britain.

Spain’s lead may be eroded in 2010, when it reviews its system of subsidies, but Kjaer said subsidies were not the main force driving growth.

He said with oil in the $70-80 range, new onshore wind power was roughly cost-competitive with new gas-fired power stations, and just marginally more costly than new coal.

But from 2013 onwards, the EU’s carbon market will force all power producers to buy permits for each tonne of carbon they emit — giving green energy a further competitive advantage.

Click HERE for article

February 3, 2010 at 10:27 AM Leave a comment

Green Wave Energy is trying to turn the wind power market on its axis

The company and investors are banking on the unconventional design of its microturbines that can generate energy by capturing breezes from any direction.

The potential for profit is blowing in the wind, and Green Wave Energy Corp. plans to catch it.

Green Wave Wind Turbine

Among its secret weapons: an 11-foot-tall, blazingly white, nearly indestructible prototype generator that produces as much as 11 kilowatts of electricity using gusts of wind.

The fiberglass contraption could make homespun, do-it-yourself wind power a reality, Chief Executive Mark Holmes said. A model version recently stood amid yachts in a Newport Beach shipyard before being disassembled for updates, but Holmes envisions it moving soon into the backyards and rooftops of homes and businesses.

“It’s gee-whiz stuff,” he said. “It gets really Space Age.”

Green Wave has big dreams for its generators, known as microturbines, and for a product that churns out energy using ocean waves. There are also ambitious plans for a park filled with larger turbines.

The wind-energy industry is growing, in part with help from federal stimulus money. For the first nine months of the year, more than 5,800 megawatts of wind projects were added to the nation’s energy supply, up nearly 40% from the same period last year, according to the American Wind Energy Assn.

But for fledgling energy companies such as Green Wave, staying aloft can be a major challenge.

“It’s been hard getting this off the ground,” Holmes said.

Unlike most windmills’ propeller-shaped turbines, the Green Wave products operate on a vertical axis, merry-go-round style.

More than 20 U.S. companies build or are developing vertical-axis turbines. Around 200 urban or rooftop units were sold in 2008, double the 2007 number.

Sales of small wind turbines soared last year to $77 million and 10,500 units capable of generating 17.3 megawatts of electricity, marking a 78% increase in capacity sold from 2007, according to the American Wind Energy Assn.

Holmes has invested $100,000 of his own money since Green Wave launched in October 2008 with a vast underestimation of the resources, time and effort needed to operate.

Development costs have been about $1.7 million, about four times higher than the team had expected.

The crew quickly learned the value of resourcefulness.

Friends, family and other investors, who have pitched in $110,000, have given Green Wave access to $1.5 million in facilities, supplies, vehicles, equipment and services, Holmes said.

The company has no official employees. Instead, all partners who provide services, equipment and working space are considered shareholders and officers. Most Green Wave workers have day jobs, such as the man who engineers corneas for eye replacement surgeries when he isn’t designing turbine parts.

Using shareholders’ properties — the shipyard, a 10-acre manufacturing facility in Perris, two others in Santa Ana and Costa Mesa, and a garage in Orange — saves thousands of dollars in rent a year. Instead of using an expensive wind tunnel to test the strength of the turbines, team members hitch a 4-foot prototype to a truck bed and go for a 55-mph spin.

But even though Holmes is an ace at being thrifty, he’s less adept when it comes to government regulations and holdups, he said.

Before wave-power generators can even get close to public waterways, companies must hack through a pack of regulatory agencies, including the California Coastal Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The process, Holmes said, could take as long as three years and cost thousands of dollars in legal, permitting and other fees.

Fewer than 1% of small wind turbines are built in urban settings because of poor wind quality and zoning restrictions, according to the wind energy association. Convoluted permitting practices and resistant city planning departments thwart a third of all potential installations, the group said.

“The regulatory maze is so thick and complex that I am fairly certain no one can navigate it but well-trained lawyers — and even for them, it’s rather daunting,” Holmes said.

The federal government and several states offer rebates and tax credits to stir investment in the wind industry. California, according to the association, boasts some of the strongest sales in the market.

There’s plenty of competition from a crush of other young energy companies, all angling to set themselves apart.

Buying and installing a small turbine costs an average of $3,000 to $5,000 a kilowatt, according to the wind energy group. Recouping the investment could take six to 30 years.

Green Wave tries to position itself first as a company with money-saving products, while touting its eco-friendly qualities.

“We’re here to make money,” Holmes said. “We’re the new guys on the block. If we didn’t show up with a better mousetrap, we wouldn’t have a chance.”

Although he majored in chemistry in college, Holmes, 49, strayed from science for nearly two decades as he pursued a career as a maritime and corporate lawyer. In the 1990s, however, he worked on bankruptcy cases involving solar energy companies.

Intrigued by alternative energy, he began combing through patents, trawling the Internet and meeting with inventors. Along the way, Holmes had to learn physics and engineering.

Now he can translate “scientific gibberish” for investors.

Unlike most turbines, Green Wave’s vertical-axis products can generate power using wind from any direction, Holmes said. The smallest operates alongside a solar generator to power batteries built into a light pole, designed to generate light from dawn until dusk for as long as 20 years in remote or harsh locations such as deserts or jungles.

There’s also an “urban turbine,” which is smaller than many rooftop air-conditioning units.

The first prototype turbine was finished in February to the tune of $30,000, but others have been progressively cheaper to build. Eventually, Holmes hopes to manufacture turbines like “tinker-toy sets” for easy manufacturing and installing.

November 19, 2009 at 11:01 AM Leave a comment

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