Wind Power News Update

Lynne Kiesling

There’s been a lot of interesting wind power news items in the past week or so:

1. An Oregonian article on community wind power investments in smaller-scale projects in rural Oregon: “Although community wind is characterized by its contained scope and local tie-in, it is by no means quaint. The projects use the same high-tech, high-capacity turbines employed by the big boys. And they rely on sophisticated financial arrangements, including outside investors’ ponying up plenty of immediate cash in exchange for federal tax advantages that the projects offer.”

2. Highland County, Virginia, is a new front in the wind power and environmentalism interaction. In this case it’s birds and bats that may be harmed by the installation, especially bats during migratory periods. Here’s a money quote: “Rick Webb of Monterey, a University of Virginia scientist whose Web site lays out potential environmental dangers of turbine development, believes serious conservation could save as much energy as would be generated by wind farms such as the one proposed in Highland.” What is the single policy change that can bring about serious conservation most effectively? Transparent dynamic pricing and the ability of consumers to choose how much price risk to bear over the course of the day/month/year!!!! No mention of that in this article, though.

3. The American Wind Energy Association notes that U.S. wind installations now exceed 10,000 MW of capacity.

4. The demand for new wind turbines is high, leading to tight markets, higher prices, and increased production. High fuel prices, state renewable portfolio standards, and tax incentives have been overcoming the reliability, aesthetic, and wildlife costs of wind power.

5. Chicago’s new 29-story Michigan Avenue Towers condominium building will purchase 100 percent of its power from Midwest Renewable Energy Corp.: “By purchasing the credits for the wind power, the association, in effect, will finance a new wind turbine in Winnebago County …”


12 thoughts on “Wind Power News Update

  1. On the Highland County wind project, if the same amount of electricity could be saved through conservation (which I agree is a good thing), it would still make sense to build the project. The more power from fossil fuels can be replaced by energy efficiency and clean power, the better. It would be better if folks just left wind energy out of the efficiency debate, instead of opposing one good thing with another.

    Regards,
    Thomas O. Gray
    American Wind Energy Association
    http://www.awea.org
    http://www.ifnotwind.org

  2. Ah the enviromentalists play the game of bait and switch. Don’t build nuclear, build wind and solar instead. Don’t build wind, you’ll kill the bats. Conserve instead. Jam tommorrow and never jam today. A bunch of people who do not want to solve problems, they want to be problems.

  3. Well, soon we won’t have any energy sources left, because even solar energy has limits, you know. We’d need a lot of space to fit in all those needy little cells, but hey, who cares whose land is gonna be wasted 🙂

    Question is, is Wind power profitable without government subsidies?
    I say yes, but only if they let real engineers construct those damn things. I have seen blue-prints of German wind farms with my Professor in Machincal Construction and the placement of the components is stupid. The result is that costs are up and life-time is way down.

  4. Well, soon we won’t have any energy sources left, because even solar energy has limits, you know. We’d need a lot of space to fit in all those needy little cells, but hey, who cares whose land is gonna be wasted 🙂

    Question is, is Wind power profitable without government subsidies?
    I say yes, but only if they let real engineers construct those damn things. I have seen blue-prints of German wind farms with my Professor in Machincal Construction and the placement of the components is stupid. The result is that costs are up and life-time is way down.

  5. Wind power cost is rarely computed carefully, resulting in statements that wind power is competitive with conventional power sources.

    Wind power systems have a reported availability of ~35%, compared with ~90+% availability for conventional generators. Therefore, reliable wind power requires either massive excess generating capacity plus storage, or even more massive excess generting capacity dispersed in multiple, carefully selected locations.

    Proper assessment of wind power cost requires correction to comparable availability. The real cost of 90% available wind power is ~6 times the cost of a kWh from a single wind turbine. Otherwise, we’re comparing apples and opals.

  6. Cost of energy is not adjusted for capacity factor, and the cost of electricity from new wind plants is indeed in a competitive range with the cost of electricity from new conventional energy plants (coal, natural gas).

    Utility system operators must deal with variability of customer electricity demand on a daily basis. Wind energy adds little further variability until it becomes an appreciable amount of generation (10-20%).

    Regards,
    Thomas O. Gray
    American Wind Energy Association
    http://www.awea.org
    http://www.ifnotwind.org

  7. Cost of energy is not adjusted for capacity factor, and the cost of electricity from new wind plants is indeed in a competitive range with the cost of electricity from new conventional energy plants (coal, natural gas).

    Utility system operators must deal with variability of customer electricity demand on a daily basis. Wind energy adds little further variability until it becomes an appreciable amount of generation (10-20%).

    Regards,
    Thomas O. Gray
    American Wind Energy Association
    http://www.awea.org
    http://www.ifnotwind.org

  8. The “fact” that the “after incentives” cost of a kWh of power available 35% of the time is “in a competitive range” with a kWh of power available 90% of the time is of any importance only as long as there is conventional power available to meet customer demand when the wind doesn’t blow, unless the wind power is reliably available on peak.

    The wind fraction which can be safely tolerated on the grid may be in the 10-20% range, if the conventional capacity reserve margin is in the 10+%-20+% range. However, the reliability and stability of the grid would be impacted as the wind fraction approached the conventional capacity reserve margin.

    As long as wind power is “source of opportunity” power and used only for conventional energy displacement, it need not have high availability. However, conventional capacity displacement is a totally different matter.

  9. The “fact” that the “after incentives” cost of a kWh of power available 35% of the time is “in a competitive range” with a kWh of power available 90% of the time is of any importance only as long as there is conventional power available to meet customer demand when the wind doesn’t blow, unless the wind power is reliably available on peak.

    The wind fraction which can be safely tolerated on the grid may be in the 10-20% range, if the conventional capacity reserve margin is in the 10+%-20+% range. However, the reliability and stability of the grid would be impacted as the wind fraction approached the conventional capacity reserve margin.

    As long as wind power is “source of opportunity” power and used only for conventional energy displacement, it need not have high availability. However, conventional capacity displacement is a totally different matter.

  10. The “fact” that the “after incentives” cost of a kWh of power available 35% of the time is “in a competitive range” with a kWh of power available 90% of the time is of any importance only as long as there is conventional power available to meet customer demand when the wind doesn’t blow, unless the wind power is reliably available on peak.

    True. However, there will always be conventional power available. Customer demand for electricity is variable too, and so utilities must ramp generation up and down in any event. They also have to be prepared for the unexpected outage of large conventional plants, sometimes on very short notice.

    By the way, very few conventional power plants achieve 90% availability. Many nuclear plants do, but they can’t supply a power system all by themselves either, because they cannot ramp up and down as quickly as needed.

    The wind fraction which can be safely tolerated on the grid may be in the 10-20% range, if the conventional capacity reserve margin is in the 10+%-20+% range. However, the reliability and stability of the grid would be impacted as the wind fraction approached the conventional capacity reserve margin.

    Again, true, and again, an overstatement. Studies have been done, and what they show is that adding 3-5% of wind generation to a utility system results in an increased reserve requirement of about 1/10 of 1% or less (in other words, 1/30 to 1/50 of the amount of wind generation). There is not a one-for-one correlation between wind generation and reserve requirements.

    As long as wind power is “source of opportunity” power and used only for conventional energy displacement, it need not have high availability. However, conventional capacity displacement is a totally different matter.

    Yes. However, wind power also provides some value in this area–one study found it at 10% of the nameplate capacity of wind added (that is, adding 3,300 megawatts of wind to a system had the same capacity value as adding 300 MW of conventional generation), another at 27%. The exact amount varies, and depends on how good a match there is between the profile of wind speeds at a site and the profile of customer demand variations.

    Regards,
    Thomas O. Gray
    American Wind Energy Association
    http://www.awea.org
    http://www.ifnotwind.org

  11. The “fact” that the “after incentives” cost of a kWh of power available 35% of the time is “in a competitive range” with a kWh of power available 90% of the time is of any importance only as long as there is conventional power available to meet customer demand when the wind doesn’t blow, unless the wind power is reliably available on peak.

    True. However, there will always be conventional power available. Customer demand for electricity is variable too, and so utilities must ramp generation up and down in any event. They also have to be prepared for the unexpected outage of large conventional plants, sometimes on very short notice.

    By the way, very few conventional power plants achieve 90% availability. Many nuclear plants do, but they can’t supply a power system all by themselves either, because they cannot ramp up and down as quickly as needed.

    The wind fraction which can be safely tolerated on the grid may be in the 10-20% range, if the conventional capacity reserve margin is in the 10+%-20+% range. However, the reliability and stability of the grid would be impacted as the wind fraction approached the conventional capacity reserve margin.

    Again, true, and again, an overstatement. Studies have been done, and what they show is that adding 3-5% of wind generation to a utility system results in an increased reserve requirement of about 1/10 of 1% or less (in other words, 1/30 to 1/50 of the amount of wind generation). There is not a one-for-one correlation between wind generation and reserve requirements.

    As long as wind power is “source of opportunity” power and used only for conventional energy displacement, it need not have high availability. However, conventional capacity displacement is a totally different matter.

    Yes. However, wind power also provides some value in this area–one study found it at 10% of the nameplate capacity of wind added (that is, adding 3,300 megawatts of wind to a system had the same capacity value as adding 300 MW of conventional generation), another at 27%. The exact amount varies, and depends on how good a match there is between the profile of wind speeds at a site and the profile of customer demand variations.

    Regards,
    Thomas O. Gray
    American Wind Energy Association
    http://www.awea.org
    http://www.ifnotwind.org

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