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Wind power clean but problematic

"The two wind turbines we bought are supposed to last 20 to 25 years," Stradley said. "But, in order to last that long, we should have minor problems, and those weren't minor." LES relies on a coal power plant in Wheatland, Wyo., and two power plants near North Platte for most of its electricity. Wind turbines only work if there is wind, he said - they can't generate electricity when the wind is still.

There are few buildings more visible along the Lincoln skyline than the Capitol, but eight years ago that changed when Lincoln Electrical Systems installed its first wind turbine near 70th street and Interstate 80.

Kurt Stradley, power supply planning engineer for LES, said the wind turbines could be the answer to the renewable energy problem - but makers must first improve the stability of the generators and gearboxes.

Stradley, who has worked for LES for 26 years, said the company purchased one wind turbine in the fall of 1998 and the other in the fall of 1999. Within the first five years, he said, LES had to replace the generators and the gearboxes, though luckily they were still under warranty.

"The two wind turbines we bought are supposed to last 20 to 25 years," Stradley said. "But, in order to last that long, we should have minor problems, and those weren't minor."

LES relies on a coal power plant in Wheatland, Wyo., and two power plants near North Platte for most of its electricity.

Wind turbines only work if there is wind, he said - they can't generate electricity... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

There are few buildings more visible along the Lincoln skyline than the Capitol, but eight years ago that changed when Lincoln Electrical Systems installed its first wind turbine near 70th street and Interstate 80.
 
Kurt Stradley, power supply planning engineer for LES, said the wind turbines could be the answer to the renewable energy problem - but makers must first improve the stability of the generators and gearboxes.
 
Stradley, who has worked for LES for 26 years, said the company purchased one wind turbine in the fall of 1998 and the other in the fall of 1999. Within the first five years, he said, LES had to replace the generators and the gearboxes, though luckily they were still under warranty.
 
"The two wind turbines we bought are supposed to last 20 to 25 years," Stradley said. "But, in order to last that long, we should have minor problems, and those weren't minor."
 
LES relies on a coal power plant in Wheatland, Wyo., and two power plants near North Platte for most of its electricity.
 
Wind turbines only work if there is wind, he said - they can't generate electricity when the wind is still.
 
Under ideal wind conditions of 25 to 30 mph, the LES turbines can generate 650 kilowatts of power, but LES expects a peak summer electricity demand of 788 megawatts. One megawatt is equal to the electricity needed for about 250 homes, according to the LES Web site.Stradley explained that since the wind does not always blow enough to get full production throughout the year, LES only gets 24 percent of what they could get if the wind constantly blew enough for full production every hour of the year.
 
He also said electricity from coal power plants is less expensive in the long run than having to keep repairing the wind turbines.
 
"Only with optimal wind can the turbines be more beneficial for the economy," he said.
 
The interest in using wind turbines has grown so much that the Nebraska Public Power District has constructed two wind farms, one in Springview in 1998 and another in Ainsworth in 2005.
 
NPPD project coordinator Mike Hasenkamp said the power company installed two wind turbines in Springview to show public support for renewable generation.
 
NPPD joined a grant project in which the company received money to monitor the installation and operation of the wind turbines.
 
"The whole operation was successful and so we decided to build a larger farm in Ainsworth, installing 36 wind turbines," Hasenkamp said.
 
NPPD relies on many different power plants, including coal, hydroelectric, nuclear and now wind farms to produce electricity.
 
"I can't say which one is better for the economy because each one has its own niche," he said.
 
With the cost of natural gas going up, Hasenkamp said there's a good possibility more electric companies will start to explore the use of wind turbines.

 


Source: http://www.dailynebraskan.c...

JUN 19 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3120-wind-power-clean-but-problematic
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