Electricity distributor NorthWestern Energy is seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct "open-season" bidding from developers to gain access to two proposed electric transmission lines costing at least $1 billion. The power lines, if approved, could kick start wind farm development in Montana and deliver the renewable electricity produced by wind farms to markets across the West, according to NorthWestern officials. "We want to be the highway," NorthWestern spokeswoman Claudia Rapkoch said.
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[P]urchasers of green energy will find that wind energy produced in Pennsylvania is much more expensive than wind produced in, say, Montana. This mainly has to do with the location of wind resources. Montana has more areas with a higher sustained four wind than Pennsylvania. Also, since Montana is less densely populated, there are fewer troubles in siting the windfarms. The drawback, obviously, is that Montana is very far away, and electricity grids lose power over long distances. However, some researchers in Europe claim to have found a solution: DC current.
Wind is a great source of power. It is clean and plentiful. But it is hard to rely on as a major power source unless you figure out where to get power when the wind isn't blowing. In the power industry this is called "firming." NorthWestern Energy firms the power from the Judith Gap Wind Farm by purchasing contracts from other power companies. The problem is the contracts are not long-term and the prices are not stable....On the other hand, wind blows when we don't need power.
A staffer at the Helena-based Montana Environmental Information Center recently professed mystification over state energy policy. “I don't know why we're not putting as much energy behind wind development as we are to coal development,” he said. The answer is simple. Most people want the lights to come on when they flip the switch, and they don't want to go broke when they do.
One way to advance wind energy is to try and destroy materials that potentially would make up a blade in a turbine. In a lab at Montana State University, three machines with two steel fists, roughly the size and shape of coffee cans, attempt to break materials. Held between these fists was a wafer of fiberglass and resin. Some of the machines pulled on a wafer, others pushed. “These machines keep grinding away around the clock,” said Montana State University’s John Mandell.
Bozeman - In a little lab on the campus of Montana State University, John Mandell, Dan Samborsky, and scores of students, have been breaking things to advance the field of wind energy.
The unpredictability of wind requires energy suppliers to coordinate backup supplies. For that reason, "free" wind isn't exactly free.