Articles filed under Technology
The utilities of the US, if not those in many other parts of the world, have pressing needs not just to supply power to energy-hungry consumers. But more than that they must meet both public and political pressures for using renewable energy sources. Apparently heedless of the impact to the environment of the Middle Kingdom and abroad, China commissions a new coal-fired plant every 5 days. Yet in the US there has not been a new coal-fired power plant permitted in about a year. So over time in North America, the older systems are passing away. The question is, what will take their place? To the extent that the public envisions renewable energy systems, the image it holds is of tall poles with windmill systems on top with blades turning. Or there is an expectation of solar systems mounted on rooftops, facing the sun. But these are intermittent sources of energy production. Some of the time - most of the time, really - the wind does not blow. And at least in the nighttime, the sun does not shine. So for each Megawatt of power that moves through the grid, down to meet the load, the requirement is for three megawatts of installed capacity of wind and solar. Build three, get one. In the big picture, this is not a good use of resources.
Kevin Luke of Buford-based Z-4 Energy Systems wants to develop a way to save wind energy for when the wind's not blowing. He's working on a commercialization plan for wind-powered water pumping, incorporating compressed air storage. Luke points out that wind is variable and energy storage is needed to provide controlled, consistent water pumping. He seeks to use air compressors, similar to those found commercially, powered by a wind turbine rotor. The driving force behind his efforts is that the wind blows at variable speeds and when there is not enough wind to turn the turbine, the stored air can continue to be used to pump the well. Currently, wind electric and solar powered systems use lead acid batteries for storage, which don't perform well in the cold weather and have a short lifespan.
George Gantz, a Unitil vice president, unveiled some company dreams this past week to reinvent the big regulated utility. He told Rep. Naida Kaen, D-Lee, and other stakeholders for "distributed energy" that Unitil would like to work itself out of business as a traditional energy retailer. Distributed energy, a new buzz word, is made by small generators scattered across the electric grid, often remote from the big power plants. ...Under existing law, that would be like McDonald's buying burgers from its patrons. But everybody would win if Unitil could claim the renewable energy credits a business or homeowner can earn under a new state law also sponsored by Fuller Clark. It rewards sustainable energy sources.
"I currently have, in Minnesota, 23,000 megawatts of interconnection requests for wind," says Moeller, who oversees new connections for MISO. Another 23,000 megawatts of future wind power in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin also is in line. In comparison, the entire Twin Cities metropolitan area typically draws about 6,000 megawatts of electricity out of the transmission system. While some have been on record for years, a sudden barrage of requests -- about 22,000 megawatts' worth -- has burst into MISO since Sept. 10. Minnesota's new renewable energy law, probably triggered some.
According to Malta’s autumn update of its National Reform Programme, the government is working with the German consultants on preparation plans that envisage a 200MVA electricity connection with Sicily. Such an interconnection would be coupled with more irregular sources of energy such as the proposed multi-megawatt offshore wind farm project as well as the generation of electricity from waste. ...The connection with the European power grid is integral for the emergence of the wind farm project. As the report, presented yesterday, states, “An interconnection to the European electrical network is unavoidable for the integration of an intermittent source of energy such as the proposed multi-megawatt offshore wind farm, given the stability issues that would otherwise arise in a small isolated system such as currently in Malta.”
As consumers, we pay the full market price for wind-generated electricity plus the value of renewable energy credits mandated by the Legislature. As federal taxpayers, we donate another two cents per kWh, and support the fast depreciation (tax savings) allowed wind installation entrepreneurs. Mars Hill’s units produce 1 percent of Maine’s electricity and 0.01 percent of New England’s. The Kibby Mountain proposal of 44 three-MW units is projected to produce about .37 billion kWh per year. The number of kilowatt-hours supplied by the wind is very small. The combined output from Mars Hill and Kibby Mountain would be about 5 percent of Maine’s or .5 percent of the total New England grid. The real cost of wind energy, if broken out on our electric bill, would be a shock.
The European Union has taken the lead on many climate change issues - from ratifying the Kyoto Protocol to passing laws to require and encourage the development of renewable energy. Why, then, are so many European energy companies looking to invest in the United States? For António Mexia, the chief executive of Energías de Portugal, the answer is simple. "The United States is the fastest-growing market in the world for wind power," he said. "If we want to be a leader, we have to be here." ..."In America you can put up a 200- or 300-megawatt wind park," Mexia said. "You can't do that in Europe" because of the lack of open space for such large wind farms. There is also more potential for growth in the United States, where wind farms account for barely 1 percent of installed generating capacity. In some EU countries, that figure is as high as 10 percent.
A year after a bitter congressional fight over offshore drilling for oil and gas, the Bush administration now wants to tap the ocean's winds, waves and currents as a source for alternative energy. This time, though, environmental interests are likely allies, not vocal opponents. ...The federal government will entertain bids beginning this week for companies to put testing equipment like meteorological towers in the ocean waters to gather data on wind, wave or current energy.
For $50,000, Oklahoma can get the same kind of comprehensive study Kansas got from Southwest Power Pool on the state's wind power resource. The plan could be finished by spring 2008 and would provide the guidance state leaders need to form a plan for new electricity generation and transmission upgrades. ...Bary K. Warren, director of transmission policy and compliance for the Empire District Electric Co. in Joplin, Mo., cautioned the group to keep projections for future wind generation development modest. Companies may put out press releases indicating their intent to build future capacity, but unforeseen developments may significantly limit the amount of wind generation that actually gets built, he said.
With regard to renewable energy, the attitude of the Assembly Government once again never ceases to amaze me. ...the Assembly Government is obsessed with the totally discredited, useless wind farm technology. In contrast, the highly predictable, reliable tidal power would be a very attractive carbon-free commodity on the electricity spot price market indeed.
AWS Truewind, a Latham firm, will forecast winds 48 hours in advance under a two-year contract with the New York Independent System Operator to make it easier for turbine companies to offer more guaranteed power in advance. Forecasting also will make it easier to manage the grid by giving a clearer picture of how much wind power will be coming, which in turn should reduce the amount of power supplied from polluting sources like coal- and oil-fired power plants.
North Dakota's wind-power industry has grown dramatically in recent years and shows signs of continuing the upward trend. However, the industry also faces increasing obstacles in exporting electricity because of transmission bottlenecks. That was a message industry figures made in presentations Wednesday to the Empower North Dakota Commission, a new board that will help steer state energy-development policy, at North Dakota State University.
THE State Government's five mini wind turbines were put on city roofs as a political exercise and will not work effectively, a key association says. Alternative Technology Association SA branch president Alan Strickland has offered to put the Government in touch with experts who are prepared to assist with proper placement of the turbines. "I believe this has been a political exercise that wasn't properly thought out," he said. ...Each turbine is supposed to produce 1.5kW - or between a third to a half of a household's electricity requirements - under the right conditions.
The Project Hayes site, which received consent from the Central Otago District Council, is located to the south of Ranfurly on the Lammermoor Range, about 70 km north-west of Dunedin. The consent decision allows for the full proposal of 176 turbines generating up to 630 megawatts ...Dr Turner expressed concern that the HVDC link between the North and South islands is being poorly managed. "Not only is the charging regime unfair to South Island generators, it disadvantages new South Island generation projects - making them more expensive at the very time South Island security of supply is under real generation pressure.
OGE Energy Corp is prepared to build a new high-voltage transmission line to accelerate development of wind generation in Oklahoma, the utility company chief executive said on Tuesday. Oklahoma City-based OG&E Electric Services said new transmission is needed to unlock the potential for power to flow from future wind farms in the western part of the state to populated cities in the east. Chief Executive Officer Pete Delaney said OG&E, Oklahoma's largest electric utility, plans to significantly increase its wind production from 170 megawatts to 770 MW over the next five years to meet increased customer demand for renewable power.
No renewable energy is growing faster than wind power, and yet those gigantic white turbines-one built every four hours-are churning out less than 1 percent of the nation's electricity. To get to 20 percent-President Bush's aim-production would have to ramp up to one every 15 minutes for 25 years, says Vic Abate, vice president for renewables at General Electric. ...Pricey power. Although offshore wind power is big in Europe, it's not moving so quickly in the United States. Local opposition is often cited, but just as important is that offshore developments cost twice as much as onshore wind. Sure, the East and West coasts have enough wind to power the whole country, but the same could be said of the Great Plains and Texas. "On shore, there's plenty of resource," says Abate, who thinks the next wave of technology will be to try to squeeze more efficiency out of large wind farms and deal with wind's greatest problem-its intermittency.
Several new North Country energy projects are in the works, but questions remain on how to transmit to homes and businesses the power they would generate. Experts at an ad hoc energy stakeholders meeting held Oct. 16 at the State House in Concord generally agreed that construction on several proposed wind farms and wood-fired power plants in Coos County will take three to four years - and perhaps longer if New Hampshire hopes to convince other New England states to cover 90 percent of the costs. ...Donna Gamache of PSNH said the hard part is guessing which players are serious and have the stamina to wait out the regulatory approval process. She said what she called "the California model" would may be "the easiest way to absorb the risk." In California, a regional electric grid underwrote the cost to transmit new solar and geothermal power to the populated coast in the hopes that future developers would pay their share as they hooked into the lines. If PSNH tackles a project like that without state help, experts fear ratepayers would eat the stranded costs if too few plants came on line.
The manufacturer picked to supply a proposed Delaware wind farm has halted production of its offshore turbine because of a faulty component. ...Of Vestas' 96 V-90 turbines installed off the coast of Europe, between 10 and 15 are idle as workers fix the gears, said Anders Soe-Jensen, president of Vestas Offshore. All of the gearboxes will eventually have to be replaced, if they haven't been already. ...Delmarva Power spokesman Bill Yingling said his company is disappointed Bluewater Wind didn't alert Delmarva to the mechanical problem during negotiations for a power purchase agreement. ..."It [offshore wind] will grow far bigger, but we do not believe, in the foreseeable future, it will become as big as people believe. Media coverage for offshore far exceeds reality," Kruse said. There are about 15,000 megawatts of wind power available globally, but only about 198 of those megawatts come from offshore production, he noted.
A new generation of super-size wind farm could be on its way to a field near you. General Electric is developing wind turbines with blades longer than the tip-to-tip wingspan of a jumbo jet. In a move likely to dismay activists who view wind farms as a blot on the landscape, the American company has taken the wraps off a project to develop power-generating windmills with blades of 70 metres - some 75% longer than the typical existing length of 40 metres. ...There was a hostile reaction yesterday from British campaigners who have fought wind farms on the grounds of their appearance, noise and economic viability. Angela Kelly, chairman of the pressure group Country Guardian, said she was "horrified" by jumbo jet-sized windmill blades and described the prospect as an "absolute disaster".
MEMBERS of the public have the opportunity to hear first hand about the results of a study that looks at the capacity for wind energy in the south and west of Berwick-upon-Tweed area of Northumberland. ...The study used the award-winning methodology developed to assess the landscape capacity to absorb wind development, which can be used to help inform decisions on planning applications.