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The Costs of a Windless Day

Environmental issues for windpower developers get the most press. But equally persistent is the question of intermittency-the fact that wind is the least predictable energy fuel for electricity production. The question is challenging on many levels for both generation and delivery.
5 May 2005

Wind Power in the UK: Has the Sustainable Development Commission Got It Right?

Oxford_energy_comment_thumb "Even its supporters would probably now accept that in its early days nuclear power was oversold – the costs were underestimated (“too cheap to meter”); the practical problems (eg waste disposal) minimised; the benefits overstated; alternatives summarily dismissed; the risks ignored. The legacy of this overselling has been unhelpful – emotions are high on both sides and there is a climate of mistrust. It seems almost impossible to have a sensible debate about the place of nuclear in the energy mix, at a time when the need to look carefully at all non-CO2 emitting sources has never been greater. Have we learned from this experience? It does not always seem so. The current state of the debate about wind power presents many of the same unwelcome symptoms – exaggerated claims; confused arguments; strong emotions; neglect of the practicalities and risks. In this climate an authoritative and neutral examination of the issues would have been a helpful corrective. This is what the latest report of the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) seems to promise. The Report, entitled “Wind Power in the UK” describes itself as “a guide to the key issues” surrounding wind power development, providing information to help “considered decisions to be made”. Unfortunately, but perhaps predictably, the Report fails to do so. The Commission ends up as just another cheerleader for wind power, using the Report to argue that “wind power must be made to work” because it is a “critically important part of the overall energy mix”. In its bullish (not to say bull-headed) approach, the Commission is repeating the errors of the early advocates of nuclear: underestimating the likely costs; minimising the practical problems; overstating the benefits; and dismissing the alternatives – in a report which, at many points, shows a poor grasp of the issues."
1 May 2005

Zoning For Distributed Wind Power - Breaking Down Barriers

Sagrillo_defeating_zoning_barriers_2005._thumb Zoning is a complicated problem. Zoning regulations vary from state to state and from one local jurisdiction to the next. There are perhaps 25,000 local zoning jurisdictions in the nation. Further, existing zoning laws seldom address distributed wind turbines. In this paper, we will highlight the experiences of veterans of zoning battles that illustrate this market barrier. We will look at the option of local action on distributed wind zoning to highlight certain shortcomings of this approach. Last, we will consider examples of state and federal limited preemption of local zoning authority as a means of promoting the implementation of new technologies, and we will present recommendations for action by the wind industry to pursue constructive and effective zoning solutions for distributed wind power. Editor's Note: This paper, presented at the Windpower 2005 Conference held in Denver, Colorado May 15-18, recommends 'limited state preemption of home rule' as the most viable approach for wind advocates to eliminate zoning barriers to distributed wind.
1 May 2005

Why Wind Power Works for Denmark

Why_wind_works_for_denmark_thumb "The global oil price rise in the 1970s prompted the Danish government to switch to imported coal for its thermal power stations and to start a wind energy programme targeted at generating 10% of electricity by 2000. The target was achieved and there are now 5500 wind turbines rated at 3000 MW—including the world’s two largest offshore wind farms at Nysted (Fig. 1) and Horns Rev— producing around 16% of national demand. This paper reports on performance data of the west Denmark power grid, to which 80% of the country’s wind power is connected. The east Denmark power grid is entirely separate but both grids are heavily interconnected to the national grids of neighbouring countries to the north and south."
1 May 2005

Wind turbines no help to Vermonters

What is unique to this state are the wild mountain tops for which Vermonters old and new have worked for a hundred years to restore and preserve. The desire to violate them not with manured hay fields but with collections of 330-foot-high steel and composite wind turbines -- for insignificant benefit other than profits for a few -- reveals a set of values that some people do not find attractive, wherever they come from.
1 May 2005

Michigan: House Bill 4648

Michigan_house_bill_2005-hib-4648_1__thumb THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT: SEC. 16J. (1) AS USED IN THIS SECTION, A "WIND ENERGY SYSTEM" OR "SYSTEM" MEANS A WIND ENERGY CONVERSION SYSTEM. (2) A WIND ENERGY SYSTEM SHALL BE PERMITTED IN ALL ZONING 3 CLASSIFICATIONS SUBJECT TO ALL OF THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS:"
25 Apr 2005

Large wind projects in Vermont and vicinity

Eric Rosenbloom's list of the current industrial-scale wind projects targeted for Vermont. Note the huge leap in size from the existing Searsburg facility that we are all urged to go see and love and consequently love as well the new very much larger facilities being planned.
19 Apr 2005

Cornell Student on Mount Pleasant

Initially, I was delighted. But then I began listening to the concerns of residents near the proposed site, hikers, skiers, birdwatchers, astronomers who frequent the nearby observatory and even trainee pilots concerned about 400 foot wind turbines cropping up in the flight path to the Ithaca airport. As a result, I am no longer an unabashed supporter of tapping Mount Pleasant.
15 Apr 2005

Vermont's wind quandary

Will they demonstrate that remote ridgelines in the Northeast Kingdom are to be sacrificed to commercial wind development -- and that only a few souls way up north who have lost their peaceful retreat to strobe-lighted industrial monoliths will complain?
14 Apr 2005

Industrial wind, corporate vandalism

Blasting Vermont's lovely ridgelines to ram monstrous turbine assemblies into the earth, along with clearcut wide strong roads through wild areas and ever more power lines strung about, is a violent assault, despoiling all life around it.
3 Apr 2005

Damaged Turbine Crystal Rig wind farm near Dunbar (2)

Turbinedestroyedinscotlandjun05_thumb Britain The Times April 16, 2005 Wind farm fears as blade snaps By Katrina Tweedie A TURBINE at a Scottish wind farm has broken down after one of its blades snapped off. The 10-tonne turbine, one of 31 at the £80 million Crystal Rig wind farm near Dunbar, East Lothian, was destroyed last week when a mechanism to stop it spinning too fast failed. Onlookers reported strong winds and said one of the turbine blades flew off and hurtled into the countryside. The 60ft high steel turbines are designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and owners, Fred Olsen Renewables, denied the breakdown was wind related. A spokesman said they were investigating the cause and that there had been little risk to people at the remote wind farm. The turbines from German firm Nordex were installed in August 2004. It will cost an estimated £1.25 million to repair. Anti-wind farm campaigners said the incident confirmed their fears about the danger of blades flying off wind turbines. David Bruce, of the pressure group Scottish Wind Assessment Project, said: “There were high winds so the turbines were ‘feathered’, or locked so they couldn’t spin round. It was lucky nobody was walking below. This is only about the second incidence of this in the UK but it shows this is possible.”
1 Apr 2005

Damaged Turbine Crystal Rig wind farm near Dunbar (1)

Damage_crystal_rig_thumb Britain The Times April 16, 2005 Wind farm fears as blade snaps By Katrina Tweedie A TURBINE at a Scottish wind farm has broken down after one of its blades snapped off. The 10-tonne turbine, one of 31 at the £80 million Crystal Rig wind farm near Dunbar, East Lothian, was destroyed last week when a mechanism to stop it spinning too fast failed. Onlookers reported strong winds and said one of the turbine blades flew off and hurtled into the countryside. The 60ft high steel turbines are designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 60 miles per hour and owners, Fred Olsen Renewables, denied the breakdown was wind related. A spokesman said they were investigating the cause and that there had been little risk to people at the remote wind farm. The turbines from German firm Nordex were installed in August 2004. It will cost an estimated £1.25 million to repair. Anti-wind farm campaigners said the incident confirmed their fears about the danger of blades flying off wind turbines. David Bruce, of the pressure group Scottish Wind Assessment Project, said: “There were high winds so the turbines were ‘feathered’, or locked so they couldn’t spin round. It was lucky nobody was walking below. This is only about the second incidence of this in the UK but it shows this is possible.”
1 Apr 2005

Transmission Issues Associated with Renewable Energy in Texas

Renewablestransmissi_thumb This 'informal white paper' authored by the renewable energy industry and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas addresses the impact of wind's intermittency on the need for the development of comparable capacities of reliable sources that can be called upon when the wind is not blowing. It contains a particularly interesting chart that characterizes different energy sources as 'base load', 'peak load' and 'intermittent' with their associated benefits and drawbacks. Wind is deemed 'intermittent' with the following benefits (no emissions, no fuel costs, stable cost, low operating cost) and drawbacks (not dispatchable, not responsive, transmission needs, low peak value).
28 Mar 2005

http://www.windaction.org/posts?p=2361
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