Articles filed under Technology

Cost may delay turbine use

Then I saw the $20,000 price tag. Suddenly, I wasn't thinking about renewable wind power so much. But in the end, it won't be the cost that keeps my family from generating its own kilowatts annually. It'll be the wind, or more correctly, the lack thereof. Terry Kelly, the member-services manager at Salem Electric, said that despite the growth of wind power in Oregon during the past 15 years, there just aren't that many sites in Salem that are appropriate for wind turbines. It seems, he said, that there just isn't the wind speed necessary to drive those big, bad blades.
9 Jan 2008

Home wind turbines dealt a blow

Home wind turbines are significantly underperforming and in the worst cases generating less than the electricity needed to power a single lightbulb, according to the biggest study of its kind carried out in Britain. An interim report revealed that homeowners could be being misled by the official figures for wind speeds because they are consistently overestimating how much wind there is - sometimes finding that real speeds are only one third of those forecast. In the worst case scenario, the figures indicate that it would take more than 15 years to generate enough 'clean' energy to compensate for the manufacture of the turbine in the first place.
6 Jan 2008

Transmitting wind could permanently change energy rules

[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.
4 Jan 2008

Debate over giant turbines

Plans to build the country's biggest wind turbine off the Northumberland coast are set to be approved by councillors. If approved the project will see seven new turbines on the north site of the River Blyth to replace the existing Blyth Harbour wind farm. Six of the turbines will tower 125m from base to blade tip while the seventh, planned for the Battleship Wharf site at Cambois, would measure a total of 163m in height - the country's biggest to date. ...Blyth Valley Borough Council has already said it will not object to the project. The turbines will be more than three times bigger than the current structures and much more powerful.
3 Jan 2008

Gale-force controversy

The debate over Mag-Wind is raging on green energy Internet forums, too. Critics argue with supporters about whether the unproven technology will produce power as advertised. A few would-be customers in the U.S. also complained about an unauthorized dealer in the Midwest, now under investigation by the FBI, who allegedly took deposits for non-existent Mag-Wind turbines. The gale-force controversy has surprised Mag-Wind founder Rowan. The delays and problems are real, he admitted - but so is the technology. Back in 2005, when Rowan and co-inventor Thomas Priest-Brown unveiled their prototype in Thorold, they hoped to be producing and delivering commercial units by the end of 2006. ...Well-known wind advocate Paul Gipe has called the company's power claims for the turbine "outlandish" on his website, ...Gipe's best advice: make sure you understand what you're buying. "If you're going to spend $10,000, or $50,000 or $100,000 on a wind turbine, do your homework," he said.
31 Dec 2007

Snow puts off skiing; Power outage delays opening of slopes at Jiminy Peak

Jiminy Peak and its 1.5-megawatt wind turbine were shut down yesterday morning by weather-related issues, delaying the ski resort's opening by two hours. But the mountain also reported 8 inches of fresh snow to close out a busy holiday season. ...National Grid reported lost power that affected the ski resort and about 84 customers in North Adams. The outage caused the $3.9 million wind turbine - known as Zephyr - to lose its juice. ...The 236-ton, 386-foot-tall turbine was installed in August and is expected to provide about 60 percent of Jiminy Peak's power and to pay for itself in seven years. But it can't run by itself. "If there's no power on the grid, there's no power to the turbine. It can't spin," said Katie Fogel, a spokeswoman for Jiminy Peak.
31 Dec 2007

Wind energy industry picks up speed in Iowa

Wind energy is booming in Iowa, and backers say it's only the beginning. ...But the jobs could blow away, economists warn, just as other manufacturing jobs have disappeared because of competition and technological change. Other states want to attract manufacturers, too. Wind power depends on subsidies, and changes in government policies could dampen the enthusiasm for wind. ...John Solow, a University of Iowa economics professor, is cautiously optimistic about the future for wind generation and turbine manufacturing. Future policy decisions and technological innovations could change that, he said. A breakthrough in clean-burning coal, for example, could reduce interest in wind energy and biofuels, he said.
30 Dec 2007

Cape Wind boss hopes for shift in attitudes

Gordon expects the federal report to closely parallel the state's positive environmental impact report issued by Bowles. But even if the federal report is favorable toward Cape Wind, it does not mean an end to the fight, something Gordon readily admits. "I don't want to be naive about legal challenges," he said in a telephone interview yesterday while on a family vacation in Vermont. But with public opinion polls indicating majority support for the project statewide, he imagines a day when even his detractors will come around. "I'm hoping that even the opponents, diehard opponents, will hopefully have a shift in their attitude and hopefully stop trying to delay and obstruct a project that is needed and enjoys growing support," he said.
28 Dec 2007

Tech could reduce coal facilities' emissions

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, such gasification plants emit about 65% less mercury and 75% less sulfur dioxide than conventional plants, while nearly eliminating particulate matter, the fine particles linked to heart and lung disease. But perhaps more important, coal-power experts say, the Edwardsport plant's gasification design would enable Duke to capture the plant's carbon-dioxide emissions, then inject them underground where they cannot affect the atmosphere, a process known as carbon capture and sequestration. Coal-fired power plants account for a third of U.S. CO2 emissions, the primary gas blamed for global warming, about as much as every plane, train and automobile in the country combined. Yet, most energy experts say the nation can't meet its energy demand for decades, at least, without a lot of coal. Deploying coal gasification technology at power plants such as Edwardsport could be a crucial first step toward solving that conflict ...
26 Dec 2007

Letter: Governor Don Quixote tilting at windmills

The Florida Public Service Commission demands that electrical utilities provide reliable power at reasonable rates. Despite this mandate, Gov. Charlie Crist signed a series of executive orders requiring utility companies to begin work by Sept. 1 towards generating at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources with an emphasis on solar and wind energy. Although well-intentioned, these executive orders were apparently signed without considering that Florida does not have high-intensity sunlight as found in low-humidity deserts and lacks sufficient wind energy to make wind turbines feasible.
17 Dec 2007

Coal power potential

More than half of our electricity comes from coal. Gas and nuclear generate 36 percent of our electricity. Barely 1 percent comes from wind and solar. Coal-generated power typically costs less per kilowatt-hour than alternatives - leaving families with more money for food, housing, transportation and health care. By 2020, the United States will need 100,000 megawatts of new electricity according to forecasts from the Energy Information Administration, and industry and utility company analysts. Unreliable wind power simply cannot meet these demands. ...We cannot afford to trash the energy we have, and substitute energy that exists only in campaign speeches and legislative decrees. Doing so would leave a huge Energy Gap between what we need and what we have. Poor and minority families can least afford such "energy policies."
12 Dec 2007

Hopkins studying efficacy of wind

Researchers are using a wind tunnel to help develop computerized models they hope will make wind energy projects more efficient. While many are studying the aerodynamics of the blades used on the giant turbines, few are looking at the interaction with local wind conditions, said Charles Meneveau, who is leading the research at Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering. ...While touted as a clean energy alternative, critics have complained about the impact wind energy farms have on birds, which can be killed if they fly into the blades, and the aesthetics of dozens of turbines stretching across the landscape. Wind turbines, with blades up to 330 feet across, are the largest rotating machines ever built, said Mr. Meneveau, a turbulence specialist. ...Mr. Cal said the researchers hope to be able to better understand those factors "rather than just go out there and build these massive structures, implementing them and not knowing what's going to happen."
12 Dec 2007

Wind power project gaining strength

Lacombe County doesn’t exactly stand out as a windy destination. However one wind power group sees it as a place of potential. Greengate Power Corp. is looking at establishing wind power turbines on two sites near Lacombe - one to the north bordering Ponoka County – and one five kilometres east of town, dubbed the Chigwell Project. “Traditionally wind hasn’t been looked at here in this area as a source of power,” said Dan Balaban, Greengate founder, president and chief executive.
11 Dec 2007

Stanford eyes offshore wind farms for Calif.

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.
10 Dec 2007

Kalama plant neither coal nor defeated

As the economy expands and the population grows, so does the demand for power. Even a cursory review of available options shows how few real choices we all have. For example, all our major hydropower sites are built, coal power is environmentally unacceptable (by Energy Northwest and many others), new nuclear in the region is still 20 years away, wind power is intermittent and expensive, solar power lacks output, tidal and wave power are undeveloped and environmentally suspect, and natural gas supplies are dangerously close to shortages. Any claims that the region can meet its future power needs with wind power and conservation alone are woefully misguided and overstated. As wind power developers we have first-hand knowledge of wind powers benefits and limitations. Shunning promising technologies like Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle without understanding them is the first step toward blackouts, sky high prices, and power-shortage panic like we saw in 2000-2001.
9 Dec 2007

Results of Barratt's green house experiment

Volume house builder Barratt Developments has published preliminary findings from its experimental ‘eco village’ project in Chorley, Lancashire – a 15 month long test of how effectively ‘green’ technologies can be incorporated into new homes. ...wind turbines were judged ‘disappointing’. Both the 1.7m and 1m turbine performed below the theoretical available output based on the recorded wind speed throughout the trial period. Simple payback period analysis has not been carried out.
4 Dec 2007

Damning wind turbines report released

report into the handling of a planning application to build Lincolnshire's biggest wind farm has been released. Planners at East Lindsey District Council made a catalogue of errors in dealing with the 20-turbine wind farm at Conisholme. It was first refused and then later approved by East Lindsey District planners in 2005.
3 Dec 2007

Big business: Size of turbines requires manufacture in Midwest

The top executive of a Warren-based wind-turbine blade maker said the decision to build a new manufacturing facility in Iowa, rather than in Rhode Island, was based on that state's proximity to the market in which the blades will be used. The blades made by TPI Composites are typically 35 meters to 40 meters long, and can weigh 10,000 to 20,000 pounds each, said Steven C. Lockard, chief executive officer of the company. Transportation costs for these blades, which are typically shipped by truck, can run into the "tens of thousands" of dollars, he said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "In this case, there really wasn't an option for this particular factory to be located in Rhode Island," he said.
1 Dec 2007

Company taking steps to double renewable energy generation

Consumers Energy plans to develop as many as eight windmill farms in Michigan, officials say. The move is part of the utility's Balanced Energy Initiative, which aims in part to double the amount of renewable energy the company generates from 5 percent to 10 percent by 2015. ...''We need to add 3 million megawatt hours per year ... to go to 10 percent by 2015,'' Rasher said. For the wind farms, Consumers is looking at installing large turbines that generate up to 2.5 megawatts each. Each wind development will generate up to 100 megawatts. But Rasher said the wind farms can only be expected to generate power about 25 percent of the time. That's why Consumers also is planning to build an 800-megawatt coal-fired plant at its Karn-Weadock complex in Bay County's Hampton Township. ''We need some other resource that's dispatchable,'' Rasher said. ''You can't put all your eggs in one basket.''
29 Nov 2007
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