Articles filed under Technology

Google shuts down Its Moonshot Wind Energy unit Makani

“Despite strong technical progress, the road to commercialization is longer and riskier than hoped, so from today Makani’s time at Alphabet is coming to an end,” Fort Felker, Makani’s chief executive, wrote in a blog post. Astro Teller, the head of X, said the lab will be “redirecting resources to more promising areas.”
18 Feb 2020

Iowa State researchers seek solution for icy wind turbine blades

Technologies exist that can be built into the turbine. Although they are used in Canada, Denmark and Sweden, Hu said the U.S. wind industry has found them to be cost-prohibitive.... blades can incorporate a material that conducts electricity that can prevent icing by warming the blade. He said the cost for the power amounts to roughly 5% of the energy a turbine might typically produce.
30 Oct 2019

New method of decommissioning wind turbine concrete bases with water jets

With this new removal technique, the top metre of the base is removed. A backhoe digs a hole around the concrete base once the tower is removed. Then an automated high-pressure water jet is set up to fire a jet of water up close and rotate around the concrete base, directing the thin, high-pressure stream of water, cutting deeply into the base, slicing both the concrete and the rebar inside. The water jet rotates around the concrete pillar firing the high-pressure water jet until it is done. The top metre of the top of the concrete pillar is then lifted off.
1 Oct 2019

Most turbine models fail to make a profit

IntelStor estimated between $120-150 million was required to develop a new 4-5MW onshore wind turbine "from a clean sheet of paper", including R&D, testing and supply chain build-up. Therefore, between 340-450 units need to be sold in order to achieve a return on capital above parity. "The unit sales can be difficult to achieve if companies do not have a globally focused sales strategy."
12 Feb 2019

‘Wake effects’ cost downwind wind farm millions in reduced electricity production

At the Texas wind farms included in the study, some turbines at the upwind Loraine wind farm, which completed a second phase in summer 2011, are located within 300 meters of turbines at the downwind Roscoe wind farm, which came online in March 2008. The authors note that turbine wakes have been observed to extend 25 miles or more for both onshore and offshore wind farms.
7 Dec 2018

The $2.5 trillion reason we can’t rely on batteries to clean up the grid

The California projects are among a growing number of efforts ...fueling growing optimism that these giant batteries will allow wind and solar power to displace a growing share of fossil-fuel plants. But there’s a problem with this rosy scenario. These batteries are far too expensive and don’t last nearly long enough, limiting the role they can play on the grid, experts say. If we plan to rely on them for massive amounts of storage as more renewables come online—rather than turning to a broader mix of low-carbon sources like nuclear and natural gas with carbon capture technology—we could be headed down a dangerously unaffordable path.
27 Jul 2018

As wind turbines grow, so does transportation challenge

The Department of Energy reports a 1,000-mile truck trip can run more than $20,000. Considering the average wind turbine now runs $3.3 million, that's a relatively small piece of the overall cost. But multiply the trucking bill by the three blades per turbine and the 100 turbines that might make up a wind farm, and the pricetag rises quickly.
18 Feb 2016

Expanding blades bring new challenges

Leading-edge erosion continues to be a high priority for further research and development. According to Andrew Kay, renewable technology engineer at ORE Catapult, blades that lack sufficient leading-edge protection are showing serious signs of erosion after only two years, causing significant power production losses. 
29 May 2015

Stormy weather ahead for wind farms?

Wind turbines provide clean, abundant energy and bolster America's power grid. But across the world people are banding together to fight wind farms, blaming noise for interrupted sleep and a host of health problems. Scientists lack sufficient understanding of wind turbines' noise and best ways to mitigate the effects. 
30 Mar 2015

California's push for clean energy has a problem: no place to store it

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.
24 Mar 2015
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