Article

Looking 20 years into wind future

Wind farms are becoming a familiar site along Wyoming's interstates and highways. Residents know wind development is out there and that there is a lot of it. What they do not know is how the industry will alter the state's landscape in the future.

Experts predict there could be 12 times as many wind turbines in Wyoming by 2030

LARAMIE -- Wind farms are becoming a familiar site along Wyoming's interstates and highways.

Residents know wind development is out there and that there is a lot of it. What they do not know is how the industry will alter the state's landscape in the future.

A panel of wind experts gave their predictions for where Wyoming wind will be in 20 years during the second day of the Wyoming Wind Symposium Friday at the University of Wyoming. They discussed how energy development could evolve and who stands to make the most money.

Two decades from now, the state could produce as much as 6,000 megawatts worth of wind energy, said Aaron Clark, energy infrastructure adviser to Gov. Dave Freudenthal. He predicts that two to three large transmission lines will deliver clean electricity to customers throughout the West.

At the same time, market demand will ultimately determine how much wind development occurs.

Meanwhile, state officials will determine how and where this growth unfolds. Clark said he believes that it's possible to create a robust wind industry without harming the characteristics that drew... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Experts predict there could be 12 times as many wind turbines in Wyoming by 2030

LARAMIE -- Wind farms are becoming a familiar site along Wyoming's interstates and highways.

Residents know wind development is out there and that there is a lot of it. What they do not know is how the industry will alter the state's landscape in the future.

A panel of wind experts gave their predictions for where Wyoming wind will be in 20 years during the second day of the Wyoming Wind Symposium Friday at the University of Wyoming. They discussed how energy development could evolve and who stands to make the most money.

Two decades from now, the state could produce as much as 6,000 megawatts worth of wind energy, said Aaron Clark, energy infrastructure adviser to Gov. Dave Freudenthal. He predicts that two to three large transmission lines will deliver clean electricity to customers throughout the West.

At the same time, market demand will ultimately determine how much wind development occurs.

Meanwhile, state officials will determine how and where this growth unfolds. Clark said he believes that it's possible to create a robust wind industry without harming the characteristics that drew many residents to Wyoming.

Clark said many wind developers protested when policymakers pulled back on a tax exemption for the industry, but renewable energy needs to pay its way like any other energy sector. Policymakers also cannot let the demand for green energy harm the cash collections from traditional sources like mineral extraction.

Wyoming has the most opportunity to make money off of wind because the state contains the strongest gusts that will produce the most electricity, said Jonathon Naughton, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Wind Energy Research Center at the University of Wyoming.

He predicts that the number of Wyoming wind turbines could multiply as many as 12 times by 2030. The output could total as much as 300,000 megawatts worth of electricity.

"You should get used to those turbines on the horizon if this happens," Naughton said.

He added that the decisions made today will build the framework for the next generation. The theory also applies to job growth. Transporting turbines to a wind farm is an expensive process, and Wyoming can take advantage of the need by building manufacturing plants within the state.

Landowners will be another moneymaker as wind energy grows, said Karyn Coppinger, senior development manager for Invenergy Wind Development and chairwoman of the Wyoming Power Producers Coalition. A handful of turbines placed on private property could generate more than $10,000 for each unit. Landowners who collect $50,000 to $60,000 a year also will see the total grow as power prices escalate.

She added that these are exciting opportunities to build considerable wealth for Wyoming residents, but there's no rush either.

"Because of the lack of transmission in this state, we have time," Coppinger said. "We have time to work on the issues. So let's work it out and do what's right."

There is a limit to how much development residents will accept, Converse County Commissioner Ed Werner said. It's not the wind that will determine when the final turbine is assembled.

"Every constraint has been about everything but the wind," he added.

State officials can draft a set of basic development standards, but the final decisions must be local. Residents should be able to attend public hearings in their community, not in Cheyenne.

Werner said he also believes that renewable energy is a way to retain Wyoming youth and create a diversified energy economy.

The state also should be prepared to compete with the energy production in surrounding states, said Jerry Vaninetti from the Trans-Elect Development Company. Wyoming's lack of transmission lines makes Colorado a strong competitor, especially since it has more customers who are easier to reach.

He predicts that updated transmission lines will carry a mix of wind- and gas-generated power for continuous electricity, even during calm days. Traditional energy sources will remain a necessity, but wind can supplement the power supply.

By the numbers

  • 8,500 megawatts -- Amount of wind energy installed in 2008
  • $17 billion -- Investment into new wind projects in 2008
  • 35,000 jobs -- Positions created by wind energy in 2008

Source: http://www.wyomingnews.com/...

AUG 14 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21746-looking-20-years-into-wind-future
back to top