Articles filed under Technology from California
It was the largest curtailment of green energy last year, according to grid operators, and it highlights a hurdle for Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to increase the state's reliance on renewable energy. Peak demand for electricity rarely coincides with the brightest sunshine or the strongest winds, so finding a way to store clean power and deliver it when needed will be critical as California relies more on renewable energy.
A proposal to export twice as much Wyoming wind power to Los Angeles as the amount of electricity generated by the Hoover Dam includes an engineering feat even more massive than that famous structure: Four chambers, each approaching the size of the Empire State Building, would be carved from an underground salt deposit to hold huge volumes of compressed air.
On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to vote on a groundbreaking proposal that would require PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to collectively buy more than 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2020 -- roughly enough electricity to supply nearly 994,000 homes. The first-in-the-nation mandate is expected to spur innovation in emerging storage technologies.
Just outside Vacaville sits a battery pack big enough to power more than 1,500 homes.
"The wind industry's central tenet now is that bigger is better," said John O. Dabiri, an aeronautics professor who runs Caltech's Center for Bioinspired Engineering. "It certainly goes against conventional wisdom, but we're taking the opposite perspective."
The proceeds from the authority sale will be used to prepay for power from the Windy Point/Windy Flats Project, a 114- turbine wind-energy farm in Washington state. The Pasadena-based authority is purchasing the electricity on behalf of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the city of Glendale.
As wind power becomes more common, its unpredictability becomes more of a problem. Sudden drops in wind speed can send grid operators scrambling to cover the shortfall and even cause blackouts; unexpected surges can leave conventional power plants idling, incurring costs and spewing pollution to no purpose. ...When wind farms were less common, grid controllers could essentially ignore their varying output, as it was all but indistinguishable from natural fluctuations in consumer use.
"Although the wind turbines currently operating in the wind resource area do adversely impact our radar coverage, we believe opportunities will soon arise both to improve overall radar performance and to work with enXco to mitigate that impact," the Lichte letter read. Neither the Air Force nor enXco could say whether that mitigation effort will include a gift to Travis of up to $1 million that was offered by enXco at a Feb. 21 Solano County Planning Commission meeting. That money was offered to improve the radar system anyway Travis chose.
Stanford research team has concluded that the ocean not far off the Northern California coastline is the most promising spot for an offshore wind farm to generate power. Specifically, the researchers concluded that the sea off Cape Mendocino, roughly 150 miles northwest of San Francisco, was their top pick. Wind turbines there could supply 5 percent of California's electrical power needs, they projected. ...Most of the Southern California coast isn't windy in the summer, so it, too, was scratched from the list. That left the sea off Cape Mendocino, north of San Francisco. ...No doubt that wouldn't sit well with some folks who appreciate their pristine Pacific views today, the researchers acknowledged in a statement.
The utilities of the US, if not those in many other parts of the world, have pressing needs not just to supply power to energy-hungry consumers. But more than that they must meet both public and political pressures for using renewable energy sources. Apparently heedless of the impact to the environment of the Middle Kingdom and abroad, China commissions a new coal-fired plant every 5 days. Yet in the US there has not been a new coal-fired power plant permitted in about a year. So over time in North America, the older systems are passing away. The question is, what will take their place? To the extent that the public envisions renewable energy systems, the image it holds is of tall poles with windmill systems on top with blades turning. Or there is an expectation of solar systems mounted on rooftops, facing the sun. But these are intermittent sources of energy production. Some of the time - most of the time, really - the wind does not blow. And at least in the nighttime, the sun does not shine. So for each Megawatt of power that moves through the grid, down to meet the load, the requirement is for three megawatts of installed capacity of wind and solar. Build three, get one. In the big picture, this is not a good use of resources.
Wind varies tremendously, Louton said. The study shows that wind could swing from 100 MW of capacity output to 6,000 MW from day to day and that existing variations ranged from 30 MW to 1,800 MW. When energy is needed most, wind drops off, but during off-peak hours the wind can exceed demand and needs to be regulated or the output compensated by backing off other generators. On July 27, 2006, during an extended heat wave, wind power output dropped back to 7% of capacity, or about 60 MW, Louton said. ...The study estimates that 12,600 MW of other types of callable generation resources will have to be online to accommodate the 20% portfolio.
A San Rafael wind turbine maker has secured financial backing to establish manufacturing operations with the help of a "significant" investment from Goldman Sachs & Co., one of the world's largest investment banks, the company announced Monday. Formed about three years ago, Nordic Windpower Inc. is preparing to start domestic production of its two-bladed, utility-scale wind turbines for sale to small and large energy producers.
"Tidal power is an interesting form of renewable energy in that it is predictable. Other forms, like solar and wind energy, are less predictable," said Alex Farrell, assistant professor of energy and resources at the University of California, Berkeley. Because it is predictable, tidal power is a more dependable resource, he said.
Energy giant BP revealed yesterday that it had brought a new partner into the project for a world-first carbon-capture and storage scheme at Peterhead. International mining group Rio Tinto of the UK has formed a new company with BP to develop decarbonised energy projects around the world. The hydrogen-fuelled power projects planned for the north-east and California will become part of the new jointly-owned firm called Hydrogen Energy.
DeWind Inc., a subsidiary of Irvine, Calif.-based Composite Technology Corp. (CTC), has completed the construction of the 2 MW DeWind D8.2 wind turbine at an offshore testing site in Cuxhaven, Germany.
If anyone needs another means to experience the energy of the Golden Gate, the narrow channel flowing between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, they someday may find it from their nearest electrical outlet. That is the hope of San Francisco officials, who are now studying ways to harness the tremendous power of daily tidal shifts deep in the Golden Gate's waters. In September, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the city would commit $145,000 to a feasibility study on generating electricity from the channel's tidal and wave energy.
California's power shortage confirms that all of the hoopla over wind energy's credentials as a clean and renewable source of electricity is undercut by the reality of its unreliability. During an extremely hot week in August, when air conditioners were cranked up and the state was on the brink of rolling blackouts, how much help did the state get from its beloved 2,500 megawatts of wind power? Only 4 percent of its capacity, according to the California Independent System Operator, which is responsible for the state's electricity grid. Southern California Edison's 2,200 megawatts of wind capacity generated only 45 megawatts. In other words, wind energy works great — except when you need air conditioning.
When peak demand hits, as it did during this year's sweltering July, the center would be called into action, the company said. The plant, planned to be built on Clawiter Road near PG&E's Eastshore substation, would only operate during peak demand periods, according to the company...... The Eastshore plant would use less water annually than five residences, the company said, with its engines cooled by a closed-water system. It would be built using state-of-the-art air emissions control technology.
But the cylindrical turbine hardly resembled fanlike conventional ones. "Everybody expects it to have propellers," the 52-year-old Watkins said. "People don't recognize it." It not only looked different on the outside, but also on the inside. It lacked the gears that many traditional wind turbines have, he said. Watkins' design transformed the energy from the spinning blades directly into electricity.
In a battle over blades and breezes, the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday tightened rules regulating home wind turbines that produce electricity.