Articles filed under Technology from Colorado
The use of windmills to offset home power costs - and perhaps even spin the meter backward - has produced mixed results in La Plata County. "I'm disappointed in the production I'm getting," said Brad Blake, who installed a windmill 18 months ago on Florida Mesa. "It hasn't produced the power I expected."
These days we read and hear more and more about the exponential increases in renewable energy, particularly large wind farms such as those sprouting up on Colorado's front range and eastern plains. Colorado's Amendment 37 requires the state's largest utility companies to produce 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015. A subsequent legislative action doubled that to 20 percent by 2020. ...This is all great news, right? Not if you are an independent grid system operator, and not if you're expecting all of this large scale wind power to help reduce global warming carbon emissions. Wind power is by nature a notoriously intermittent source of power. Wind simply doesn't blow steadily all of the time. Therefore, the power output of all large scale wind farms goes up and down dramatically throughout the day, regardless of the demand for power on the grid. ...Without energy diversity, the more renewable power we mandate, the more unreliable the grid will become. The laws of physics simply can't be amended.
A major blade manufacturing plant in east Windsor appears to be only a starting point for global wind-power giant Vestas Wind Systems. The company, based out of Denmark, announced Thursday that it now has intentions to build a research and development center in the United States. "Today, Vestas is a technology enterprise. If we want to be market leaders, we have to be present and drive the development, where the market is. And that is, amongst other places, in the U.S.," said Finn Strom Madsen, president of Vestas Technology R&D in a press release. The center is expected to be operating in 2009 and could employ up to 80 people at full capacity in 2010.
Geothermal, or earth energy, is perhaps the most underutilized renewable source of energy. Whether using the earth's naturally stable temperature to provide heating and cooling, or harnessing extreme heat from deep below the earth's surface to generate electricity, the potential of geothermal energy has until now been largely untapped. But the geothermal marketplace is growing fast. Understanding the current technologies involved and the economics behind them can help building designers, business executives, and homeowners to take advantage of this renewable, clean and efficient energy source. There are two types of energy under the geothermal category, each markedly different from the other.
Greenblatt noted that while wind power could produce impressive amounts of peak energy during strong gusts, the biggest problem was wind power’s intermittency. The problem could be addressed by a process called compressed air energy storage, where excess energy could be used to pump compressed air into underground storage facilities that could include abandoned mines. When the wind was not blowing, he said, the compressed air could be tapped and combined with the burning of natural gas to create high-efficiency electrical generators approximating the efficiency levels of coal-fueled power plants.
DENVER — Mercury Cafe owner Marilyn Megenity, a self-styled energy activist, drives a biodiesel-fueled car, conserves electricity at her business and voluntarily buys wind power. But by the end of this month, she expects to have something rarely seen in Denver: two power-generating windmills atop her popular downtown restaurant. "I'm very concerned about our nation's energy use, and I want to do something about it," Megenity said. Not yet a trend, not even a fledgling movement, small-scale wind power in urban areas is beginning to grab the attention of a handful of committed energy-efficiency enthusiasts and environmentalists. Last year, 8,400 small wind-powered structures were sold, compared with 4,700 in 2004, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden is planning to build a multimillion-dollar wind- blade testing plant. But it won’t be in Colorado. Plans for the nation’s second wind research center include testing wind blades as long as 230 feet. Lack of adequate federal dollars and the difficulty of transporting long wind blades to an inland region such as Colorado are prompting NREL to build the plant somewhere else, possibly along the coasts or the Great Lakes easily accessed by ships and barges.