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Wind power: Not as simple as it seems

But putting up wind turbines and generating electricity from wind power is not a simple solution. There are a number of factors to consider when installing turbines, and one of the most important factors is something called transmission.

Wind-generated power seems a good way to spin something positive from constant daily winds sweeping across the plains.

Nebraska ranks as the sixth highest state in the U.S. for wind energy potential.

But putting up wind turbines and generating electricity from wind power is not a simple solution. There are a number of factors to consider when installing turbines, and one of the most important factors is something called transmission. According to Doug Mollet, water systems and renewable energy manager for Nebraska Public Power District, wind energy is much easier to generate than it is to store.

In order to move the energy created from wind turbines, an area must have adequate transmission (power) lines. Many transmission lines haven't been updated since the 1980s and don't have the necessary capacity.

It can cost $500,000 per mile, or more, to update transmission lines, and that can quickly negate any cost effectiveness for wind-energy.
"If you don't have the transmission, it falls apart from an economic perspective," Mollet said.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Nebraska has an annual energy potential of 868 billion kilowatts per hour.... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Wind-generated power seems a good way to spin something positive from constant daily winds sweeping across the plains.

Nebraska ranks as the sixth highest state in the U.S. for wind energy potential.

But putting up wind turbines and generating electricity from wind power is not a simple solution. There are a number of factors to consider when installing turbines, and one of the most important factors is something called transmission. According to Doug Mollet, water systems and renewable energy manager for Nebraska Public Power District, wind energy is much easier to generate than it is to store.

In order to move the energy created from wind turbines, an area must have adequate transmission (power) lines. Many transmission lines haven't been updated since the 1980s and don't have the necessary capacity.

It can cost $500,000 per mile, or more, to update transmission lines, and that can quickly negate any cost effectiveness for wind-energy.
"If you don't have the transmission, it falls apart from an economic perspective," Mollet said.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Nebraska has an annual energy potential of 868 billion kilowatts per hour. Only North Dakota, Texas, Kansas, South Dakota and Montana have greater wind energy potential.

The biggest wind-farm project in the state of Nebraska is an $81.3 million project outside of Ainsworth. The site has been determined to be at least a Class 5 wind site, which means the average wind speed is 19.5 miles per hour at an 80-meter height. It's home to 36 turbines.

Under good conditions, the 60-megawatt facility will be able to generate enough electricity to serve the equivalent of 19,000 households.

Closer to home, Phase I of a 40-turbine project was recently completed south of Sidney, across the Colorado border. An energy firm from Chicago set up the wind farm between Peetz, Colo., and the border to sell power to customers in Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico.
There is also a $14 million, seven 1.5-megawatt wind turbine, wind farm approximately 1.5 miles west and 3 miles north of Kimball.

Each wind turbine sits on approximately one-quarter of an acre. The wind power project features a land lease agreement that was signed with a local cattle rancher who continues to graze livestock right up to the base of the machines. The rancher supplements his current income with long-term annual land lease payments.

The project produced 29,263,232 kilowatt-hours (kWh) in full-scale operation, from Oct. 1, 2002, to Sept. 30, 2003.

Mollet said he'd be taking a look at possible wind farm sites across the state of Nebraska, including the Panhandle. It will take NPPD two years to collect the data.

"We want to make certain that what we do here, we do it correctly," Mollet said. "If we have 50 turbines in 50 counties it doesn't do the Nebraska taxpayers as much good as having 50 in the ideal spot."

Once the agency collects the data, there might be an equally long wait for the equipment. Mollet said there is such a demand for wind turbines that it would take him two years to get the necessary equipment for a wind farm if he ordered it now.

Small differences in average winds mean large differences in production and, therefore, in cost. A wind plant will, all other factors being equal, generate electricity at a cost of 4.8 cents/kWh in 16 mph winds; 3.6 cents/kWh in 18 mph winds; and 2.6 cents/kWh in 20.8 mph winds.

NPPD has a long-term goal to evaluate all forms of renewable resources, with a goal of achieving 5 percent of Nebraska's energy supply from renewable resources, when it can be shown that it will provide sufficient value for the cost.

A wind facility can cut down on the importation of fuel, provide additional revenue to landowners and create jobs in rural areas. Wind generation produces no emissions and produces no wastes requiring disposal.


Source: http://www.starherald.com/s...

FEB 5 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1204-wind-power-not-as-simple-as-it-seems
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