Colorado Wind Power Rapidly Growing

A recent post in Daily Kos explains  how Xcel Energy has become a big proponent of wind power.

Colorado is learning how to integrate its significant wind turbine capacity with its electrical needs. Wind is intermittent power generation, which creates a systems operation challenge. Colorado has changed from believing that more than 10% of their electrical energy from wind would be impossible to now believing that they can reliably integrate very large percentage of wind and have demonstrated this with a 60% wind energy contribution on one day.

Here is an excellent article in MIT’s Technology Review.

Wind power is booming on the open plains of eastern Colorado. Travel seven miles north of the town of Limon on Highway 71 and then head east on County Road 3p, a swath of dusty gravel running alongside new power lines: within minutes you’ll be surrounded by towering wind turbines in rows stretching for miles.

Colorado has been quietly generating wind capacity, but have been fought by one of the largest energy corporations.

Before the forecasts were developed, Xcel Energy, which supplies much of Colorado’s power, ran ads opposing a proposal that it use renewable sources for a modest 10 percent of its power. It mailed flyers to its customers claiming that such a mandate would increase electricity costs by as much as $1.5 billion over 20 years.

The breakthrough was achieved by accurate wind predictions and therefore power output of the turbines. This is critical to a Systems Operator and you can’t commit to energy production on a given day if you can’t predict, with accuracy, what the instantaneous power output will be per turbine.

Xcel Energy has completely changed their tune and has become an advocate of wind energy.

It has installed more wind power than any other U.S. utility and supports a mandate for utilities to get 30 percent of their energy from renewable sources, saying it can easily handle much more than that.

Here is a quote from an excellent study on “Cost-minimized combinations of wind power, solar power and electrochemical storage..”

We find that 90% of hours are covered most cost-effectively by a system that generates from renewables 180% the electrical energy needed by load, and 99.9% of hours are covered by generating almost 290% of need. Only 9–72 h of storage were required to cover 99.9% of hours of load over four years. So much excess generation of renewables is a new idea, but it is not problematic or inefficient, any more than it is problematic to build a thermal power plant requiring fuel input at 250% of the electrical output, as we do today.At 2008 technology costs, 30% of hours is the lowest-cost mix we evaluated. At expected 2030 technology costs, the cost-minimum is 90% of hours met entirely by renewables. And 99.9% of hours, while not the cost-minimum, is lower in cost than today’s total cost of electricity.

Over-generation is cost-effective at 2030 technology costs even when all excess is spilled.

The study looked at the mid-Atlantic region of the US. The important conclusion is that geographically distributed wind and solar combined with overcapacity can produce very high percentages of required energy on a given day, and at a cost effective point.

The case for wind today is totally compelling. It’s the only source that can be deployed in units of gigawatts, and it’s competitive with fossil fuel in $ per KWh. We are now learning how to integrate wind to 90% plus energy contribution.

The challenge for this community is to make wind and solar deployment a major strategy for the US. That means getting Congress to support this. It currently takes 7 years to permit an offshore wind farm in Federal waters. This should be completely unacceptable. We are seeing major blockage of wind power deployment from influential individuals who just don’t like the inconvenience to their “viewshed”. We now know how to site wind for maximum efficiency and minimum impact to residents. We could acheive 90% or more of our stationary electrical power from wind and solar by 2030. We just need to will to do this.

Posted in clean energy, Energy production, wind power

Energy Department Announces Offshore Wind Energy Projects

The Energy Department on May 7 announced the selection of three pioneering offshore wind demonstrations to receive up to $47 million each over the next four years to deploy innovative, grid-connected systems in federal and state waters by 2017. These projects—located off the coast of New Jersey, Oregon, and Virginia—will help speed the deployment of more efficient offshore wind power technologies.

The three projects selected are aimed at deploying offshore wind installations in U.S. waters by 2017:

Fishermen’s Energy will install five 5-megawatt direct-drive wind turbines approximately three miles off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. This project will utilize an innovative, U.S.-developed twisted jacket foundation that is simpler and less expensive to manufacture and install than traditional offshore wind foundations.

Principle Power will install five 6-megawatt direct-drive wind turbines approximately 18 miles off the coast of Coos Bay, Oregon. The U.S.-developed WindFloat semi-submersible floating foundation will be installed in water more than 1,000 feet deep, demonstrating an innovative solution for deep water wind turbine projects and lowering costs by simplifying installation and eliminating the need for highly specialized ships..

Dominion Virginia Power will install two 6-megawatt direct-drive wind turbines 26 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, utilizing a U.S.-designed twisted jacket foundation. Dominion’s project will demonstrate installation, operation and maintenance methods for wind turbines located far from shore. Additionally, the Dominion project will install and test a hurricane-resilient design.

Posted in clean energy, wind power

Cape Wind Wins One Round in Court

In Cape Cod Online, Patrick Cassidy writes:

Seemingly as quickly as a new lawsuit was filed challenging Cape Wind another one has been beaten back.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., today denied a petition by opponents of the project appealing approval by the Federal Aviation Administration of the proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound.

In its decision the court found that the circumstances surrounding concerns over the effect of the turbines on aeronautical radar had changed since an earlier “no-hazard” finding by the FAA was rejected by the court and that tests of a new radar system had addressed those concerns. In addition, the court found that the FAA was not required to perform or participate in an assessment of the environmental impacts of its no-hazard determination.

“The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the town of Barnstable and their financial backer-coal billionaire Bill Koch- have failed yet again in their continuing campaign to use the courts to delay the financing of Cape Wind,” the company’s spokeswoman Mark Rodgers wrote in a statement about the decision.

The Alliance, the town and several businesses and individuals, sued state officials, Cape Wind and NStar on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, claiming the project violates the U.S. Constitution.

There are still several legal challenges, consolidated into a single lawsuit in federal court, challenging the approval of the project by the U.S. Department of Interior.

Posted in wind power

Wind industry can bring good jobs

In an op ed in the Boston Globe, Derrick Jackson looks at the opportunity to make New Bedford a center for wind turbine production, bringing as many as 70,000 jobs to the economically depressed city.

FOR NEW Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, offshore wind is “not just an industry with abstract benefits.’’ It’s a jobs creator.

The industry could support up to 70,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the North Atlantic region by 2030, with up to $14 billion-a-year’s worth of construction, operations, and maintenance, according to analysis released last month by the Department of Energy.

“These results are strongly based on the local sourcing assumptions. If more components and services were sourced locally, the numbers could increase by three to fourfold,” the analysis said. Read more.

Posted in wind power

New Bedford Charging Ahead on Wind

As An Offshore Wind Hub, Can New Bedford Light The World Again?

By  May 20, 2013

A man with a sign reading "Build more wind!" attends the ground-breaking ceremony for the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A man with a sign reading “Build more wind!” attends the ground-breaking ceremony for the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — New Bedford was once known as the city that lit the world. Its whale oil could be found in candles and lamps across the country.

Those glory days are long gone. Now, the troubled city is trying to rekindle its old fame with an alternative form of energy: offshore wind.

This month, the state began construction on a $100 million purpose-built port to transport offshore wind equipment to sea. New Bedford is praying this will be its saving grace — bringing jobs and money into a long-struggling community.

For generations, water was New Bedford’s lifeblood, the source of its wealth. The water is still here, but the wealth is gone. Read more

Posted in clean energy, wind power

Falmouth Votes to Continue Support for Wind

According to the Associated Press: April 10, 2013. Very positive news.

BOSTON — A Cape Cod town that once considered its first wind turbine the crowning achievement of its climate protection plan came close to becoming the first community in the country to decide to tear its turbines down.

Falmouth’s Town Meeting voted down a measure Tuesday night that would have authorized borrowing $14 million to dismantle two turbines. Read more

Posted in clean energy, wind power

Future Markets for Small Wind Turbines

Renewable Energy World (April 1, 2013) reports:

By 2015 the global market for small and medium wind turbines (SMWT) is forecast to double, especially in developing and emerging markets, reaching U.S.$634 million. These technologies already have a track record of success in rural electrification projects. For instance, in China, SMWT started to be implemented in 1980, and by 2010 there were some 400,000 systems reported.

Turbines with a diameter of less than 15 meters and a power output below 50 kW are classified as small. However, most small wind turbines have a diameter of around 7 meters or less and a power output ranging between 1 kW and 10 kW. For very small installations, such as a remote household, wind turbines can have a diameter smaller than 2 meters and an output of 1 kW or less. Medium size wind turbines have a rotor diameter of 15-30 meters, and a maximum output of 50-250 kW. Read more.

Posted in clean energy, wind power