Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
Wind power generation in Texas is growing so quickly that it is testing the limits of the state’s electrical grid.
The state set a record on March 5 when wind turbines generated 6,272 megawatts of energy, or about 19 percent of the electricity on the state’s main power grid.
That peak far exceeded the 6.2 percent average for wind power in Texas, whose 9,410 megawatts of total wind capacity make it the nation’s wind power leader.
But wind power’s growth poses a critical challenge for the state’s booming wind industry, which includes a 180-megawatt wind farm completed last fall near Corpus Christi in South Texas. (more…)
Saturday, March 6th, 2010
The most surprising thing about the inaugural ARPA-E summit, held this week outside Washington D.C., is that the conference hall was full of losers. They were inventors, scientists and entrepreneurs who had applied for funding from the U.S. government’s exciting new energy-research organization but had been shot down.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy received 3,500 proposals, but only accepted 37. That leaves room for some compelling also-rans.
As a consolation prize, some of the most credible finalists got booth space in the exhibit hall. The most visible were those with ambitious plans for “kite power” — harnessing the powerful and consistent winds that blow high off the Earth’s deck.
Kite energy is way out there, both physically and in the public mindset, and it can be a hard sell, even to an agency like ARPA-E that funds risky projects. Who wants to put their money on the line for a four-rotor helicopter the size of a 747 that’s suspended several kilometers in the air? (more…)
Friday, March 5th, 2010
Wind turbine technology has become a fully commercial venture, but the recent rapid growth of the wind industry has strained its supply chain to meet demand in a timely manner. Furthermore, unexpected component failures, especially electronic controls, gearboxes, generators, and rotor blades, have driven up operations and maintenance costs.
During the course of the research for a new report just published by Wind Energy Update, it ultimately became clear that reliable and verifiable data on wind industry operations and maintenance cost trends is quite rare. In fact, there are no current widely available data sets illustrating these wind industry costs.
Proprietary research, reviews of scarce secondary sources and anecdotal evidence obtained through confidential interviews with wind industry owners and operators and component suppliers suggest that operations and maintenance expenses are double or even triple what was originally projected, particularly with the latest class of multi-megawatt machines now permeating the global wind market. (more…)
Friday, February 19th, 2010
By 2020, the European Union will meet its goal of generating 20 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, and other renewable sources of energy, according to the European Wind Energy Association.
The group said that 14 of the EU’s 27 member states will meet the 20 percent goal, eight will exceed it, and five will fall short, though only by one percent.
Monday, February 15th, 2010
Wind power capacity grew by 31 percent globally in 2009, with the steepest rise occurring in China, according to a new study.
About 37.5 gigawatts of capacity were added last year, boosting the total capacity worldwide to 157.9 gigawatts, says the Global Wind Energy Council, an industry trade group based in Belgium.
The growth occurred despite the weak global economy as major nations made renewable energy a priority of their economic stimulus plans, said Steve Sawyer, the council’s secretary general.
Monday, February 8th, 2010
At a factory in Wuxi, China, workers lift solar panels onto conveyor belts, while others in white lab coats move between machines as they check on a process for etching and engraving silicon wafers to form solar cells.
This scene in itself isn’t remarkable. But there is a new sort of excitement about the work. China’s production of solar panels has grown quickly in the past two years; it is it now the world’s leading exporter. When Matt Lewis, a representative of the California-based nonprofit ClimateWorks, visited the factory in October, he said it reminded him of his native Silicon Valley: The workers, even ordinary line workers, had a sense that they were part of building the future, the hot new industry.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
The U.S. wind power industry continued to grow in 2009 despite a global recession, adding 9,900 megawatts — a capacity increase of about 39 percent — according to a new report.
That growth, which was boosted by a federal stimulus package that extended the tax credit for wind energy production and offered other incentives, represents the largest single-year jump on record for the industry, according to the annual report released by the American Wind Energy Association.
The added capacity was 18 percent greater than the growth in 2008. But that momentum could slow in 2010, the report said, since the sluggish economy has slowed orders for new turbines and will likely mean fewer installations this year.
With the added capacity, wind energy contributes nearly 2 percent of the nation’s electricity. The U.S. continues to lag behind Europe, however, which gets about 5 percent of its electricity from wind energy.
Thursday, January 14th, 2010
A period of extremely cold, windless weather has brought home to the British the drawbacks of relying on wind power and the need to keep a supply of natural gas in reserve. While the cold spell has strained natural gas supplies, leading in some cases to cutoffs to industrial users, it also has highlighted the unpredictability of wind power. Although Britain’s wind farms are supposed to provide 5 percent of the country’s electricity, they were in fact only providing 0.2 percent during the recent run of frigid, still days.
Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
There are many advantages to wind power, the least of which is zero-emissions electricity. Now, several innovative companies worldwide are exploring the idea of creating floating wind turbines anchored to platforms far out to sea that connect to the seabed to harness the power of the ocean winds.
In September, the first full-scale floating wind turbine was launched in the North Sea off Norway. Called Hywind, the 2.3-megawatt wind turbine was hauled six miles out to sea by tugboats and installed on a floater traditionally used for production platforms and offshore loading buoys. The turbine’s tower is bolted to a steel cylinder that extends more than 300 feet below the surface and is connected to the seabed with three anchor points. (more…)
Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Global investments in alternative energy projects will rise nearly 50 percent in 2010, climbing from $130 billion this year to $200 billion next year.
In a survey of the green energy market, Bloomberg News reports that despite the dim prospects of forging a climate treaty in Copenhagen this month, companies and governments are moving rapidly ahead to build wind power farms, large solar arrays, and other green energy projects.
Thanks in large part to state-funded economic stimulus programs, government spending on green energy will more than double in 2010 to about $60 billion, according to the report.
Analysts said that with China, the European Union (EU), and individual U.S. states aggressively adopting regulations and incentives promoting green energy, the field will continue to rapidly develop even if a global climate treaty is not signed.