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Wind power is drawing some fancy suitors. The latest is Germany's E.ON, which just revved up a 335 megawatt plant in Texas. It's part of E.ON's business strategy, which considers North America to be the best market for renewable energy in the world.
Wind's allure is tied to its environmentally-friendly image -- a picture that is now enhanced because of global desires to curb the use of carbon-producing fossil fuels. With U.S. lawmakers and all the presidential candidates now talking about the enactment of legislation to deal with this, wind power's stock is rising. The point is underscored by the fact that the U.S. is now the world's second largest magnet for wind-powered investment.
According to Ernst & Young's Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices, the U.S. posts a score of 72. It is followed by India, Spain and the UK, which score 64 each. The U.S. pulled in $9 billion last year and may collect another $65 billion by 2015, adds Emerging Energy Research. Denmark ranks first.
Foreign conglomerates are the most active with Denmark's Vestas, Spain's Iberdrola and Portugal's Energias helping to lead the charge. E.ON, which is the world's seventh biggest producer of wind power, says it will spend $3 billion to $4 billion on wind facilities here. "We believe we have an excellent platform in place to grow into one of the most attractive renewable energy markets in the world," says Frank Mastiauz, head of E.ON's climate and renewables unit.
The company entered the North American market in October 2007 with the purchase of Airtricity's domestic business. At the time, it had 215 megawatts of operational wind power plants and 370 megawatts under construction in this part of the world. Since the acquisition, E.ON has completed those projects and started the construction of four additional facilities that will produce 704 megawatts. E.ON says that it will also bring down its costs of production by growing its business volume.
And no where is that potential greater than in Texas, which now gets 3 percent of electricity from wind and which tops the nation in terms of wind production. Hundreds of millions are being invested there as the wind industry now supplies more than 4,300 megawatts and has another 1,200 megawatts under construction.
And it's only going to get bigger: Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens is planning to plow $10 billion into a 4,000 megawatt facility to be located in the Texas Panhandle. Construction could start by 2010. Meantime, TXU and Shell are talking about building a 3,000 megawatt wind farm.
"I like wind because it's renewable and it's clean and you know you are not going to be dealing with a production decline curve," Pickens told the New York Times. "Decline curves finally wore me out in the oil business."
Wind power now supplies almost 17,000 megawatts in the United States. It increased by 45 percent last year and is expected to perform just as well in the current year, although it still only provides about one percent of the electricity generated here. Two decades from now some say it will supply 20 percent and others say it will be around 5 percent.
To be sure, there are risks associated with constructing wind power. The most notable is that the wind does not blow on demand and that back-up fossil fuel sources must still be made available. Another key obstacle is that the nation's transmission system can't support those wind projects built in rural areas that are meant to service densely populated urban regions. And like other power projects, permitting issues are still rigorous and can weigh down the expansion of green energy.
Even E.ON's outlook is tempered: "To guarantee reliable electricity supplies when wind farms produce little or no power during periods of calm or storm-related shutdowns, traditional power station capacities must be available as a reserve. This means that wind farms can only replace traditional power station capacities to a limited degree."
The good news is that turbines are getting better and cheaper while storage technologies to allow wind to be used during calm days are in the offing. Federal tax breaks and state mandates, meantime, are offsetting some of the initial start-up costs, although developers complain of uncertain federal tax laws.
For its part, Texas has both a renewable portfolio standard and a favorable regulatory climate. The Texas Public Utility Commission, for instance, has given its okay to build a transmission system that could support 25,000 megawatts of wind power by 2012. Another state, Iowa, is producing 5.5 percent of its electricity from wind.
It has all enabled more development. The demand for wind energy components such as turbines is exceeding the supplies, which has driven up costs. In time, though, manufacturers will catch up and increase their production rates. Regardless, experts say that wind is competitive with natural gas at current rates and with newer coal plants that are required to use the best available technologies.
"The tremendous growth of our wind business is evidence that wind energy will continue to contribute toward a more diverse mix of environmentally compatible power generation sources," says Randy Zwirn, CEO of Siemens Power Generation. "In fact, we are growing faster than the global market, not only in North America but also in other important markets in Europe and Asia."
Indeed, blue chip enterprises have been swept up by the global green energy drive. It's evidenced by the billions being spent and the unrelenting demand. It's a healthy development. And while the surge will not supplant fossil fuels, it will help improve air quality and facilitate the growth of the new energy economy.
For information on purchasing reprints of this article, contact sales. Copyright 2013 CyberTech, Inc.
There is something wrong in wind energy technologies over worldwide there should be, since wind power news only cover the rising demand and growing wind market and how clean it is. Although everbody knows that wind energy is not a kind of compatible and safety power source , it is only said that wind energy capacity is getting higher and higher. Meanwhile no one mentioned about the maintenance difficulty and cost, blade crucks, generators burns and so on. Aysegul Karayazgan
Kenneth Kok 6.4.08
Are the numbers in the paper the name plate capacity or the actual or expected power generated and delivered to the grid?
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.5.08
I'm glad to know that things are going so well on the wind front in Germany. The last I heard (from a very good source), the capacity factor in that country was about 0.20. Not really much to write home about.
Aysegül Karayazgan 6.6.08
It is good to hear that but I want to know about how the market grows so quick without distinguished technical improvements . Since everbody knows that even 3 and 4 MW with 100 meter long blades turbines is not meet the global market compatitive requirements. aysegul
Todd McKissick 6.10.08
"I like wind because it's renewable and it's clean and you know you are not going to be dealing with a production decline curve," Pickens told the New York Times. "Decline curves finally wore me out in the oil business."
Says it all. Wind may not be reliable as far as baseload, but combine an annual average wind that's remaining nearly the same, and a market still looking for quantity additions, not just dispatchability and you've got yourself a stable ROI.
Nicole Ratcliff 6.10.08
The development of renewable energy projects throughout the U.S. should be welcomed and widely encouraged by academics, politicos, business and especially the environmental movement.
Wind is one underdeveloped and important element that needs to be substantially expanded to meet green house gas reduction goals. The more energy that can be produced in an environmentally sensitive manner the better the enviroment and economy will be.
Unfortunately many of the wind development projects meet resistance from NIMBY neighbors who understand the benefits they just want the projects located somewhere else. Too bad the wind is only beneficial in certain areas in order to be a beneficial energy source for communities.
Don Hirschberg 6.10.08
Professor Banks tells us that the wind capacity factor runs about 20% in Germany. Doesn't this low value suggest that they are designing their turbines for too high wind velocities? Don Hirschberg
Len Gould 6.11.08
"resistance from NIMBY neighbors " -- Instructive that Cape Wind has now spent as long in licensing as the typical nuclear reactor did back in their day. I wonder what we learn from that strange fact?
Julia Johnson 6.11.08
Lack of a transmission network to take wind from appropriate places like Nebraska to the East Coast is ignored in favor of irresponsible siting near the grid where it is cheaper never mind the human misery wreaked by this irresponsible industry. The continued lie of nameplate capacity instead of telling the truth of real generation is another demonstration of their lack of integrity. Those who prefer to call the suffering victims of this scam "nimby" should be ashamed. Politicians who are complicit to look 'green' are an embarassment to the ideals of the republic.
Len Gould 6.11.08
JJ: Siting wind turbines on the shelf off the east coast rather than in Nebraska causes "human misery " ??? -- "suffering victims"??? -- specify please, what misery and for what victims exactly? I'm sure many of us would love to be enlightened, for the good of the ideals of the republic.
Kent Wright 6.11.08
The promotion of wind-generated capacity without the faintest mention of capacity factors or the expected real contributions to total energy in watt-hours gives it all appearances of a scam whether it is or not. Is full disclosure too much to ask for from the wind industry and its cheerleaders? Just for a change, how about some clear facts on actual performance? Or equally important, what is the balance point at which installed wind generation capacity starts to exceed the ability of existing backup sources/storage units to support it? How much backup capacity has to be raised in parallel with wind capacity in order to gain its benefits? Idle or unusable generation capacity means absolutely nothing to end users except higher costs. Mr. Silverstein says Texas produces 3.3%, and Iowa 5.5% of their ELECTRICITY from wind. Does he mean capacity in megawatts or energy delivered in megawatt-hours? Last year’s data are in and all that he reports is construction stats in capacity and promises of more. Just for the record, T-Bone Pickens and the big Blue Chippers are rushing to pour money into development of wind CAPACITY, not generation of electricity over a meaningful time. They do this for one reason – there is a state guaranteed buyer when construction is finished. In other words, Pickens and the Big Blues have no intention of ending up as long term owners of generation assets and paying for O&M, T&D, net metering loss leaders, backup generation/storage, and perpetuation of service as actual utilities are required to do.
Julia Johnson 6.13.08
Well said, Kent. Len, the suffering victims are homeowners east of the Mississippi who live in proximity to the grid in populated semi-rural areas. In Ohio, the wind developers and the Governor have pushed setbacks from homes of 750 feet for 2.5 MW turbines. They propose measurement from our homes not property lines thus using our land as their buffer. Vesta recommends 1,300 feet for safety, Nordex calls for about 1,700 ft, GE engineers say they can't even model for extreme wind events and recommend a remote location. We live in tornadic areas, our children play in their yards, and the developers won't even be honest about our safety. Add that to the lack of forthrightness over actual production and I'd say there's a scam in there someplace.
Thomas Stacy 6.13.08
Well said, Julia. I also live in the western Ohio area under siege by wind developers. I'd start earlier in the process you describe, beginning with two years of subversive developer presence collecting land owner leases from every sub-standard farm in the region, garnering support even from lease holders in completely inviable areas to build momentum, working with local elected officials and state employees away from public scrutiny, fostering potential conflicts of interest contrary to the public good.
On a separate topic, the consideration of wind's alteration of regional landscape character - character that fosters a sense of community, stability, peace and pride - has been too long swept under the rug by policy makers at all levels of government. Is there somewhere this defense has been effective where I might learn the finer points?
Paul Stevens 6.13.08
What happens to wind generation projects when the subsidies end? Or is it expected that state mandates on % makeup of generation will always include a substantial portion for renwables? What happens when the rate payers actually find out how much they are paying for that wind generated electricity? Sure wind is free, and that is a good thing for the generator, but the genrator is under no compunction to offer low rates as a result. It is "all the traffic will bare."
Somehow the public believe that "the wind is free" equates to "low electric rates." Nothing could be further from the truth. All of these wind promoting pieces are really about dicussing investment opportunities, not inexpensive sources of power.
Todd McKissick 6.16.08
Paul, That's when the market will get to decide which energy source they want based on real world comparisons. Hopefully, we won't have such a bubble in future technologies (wind, PV and Ethanol) that they get overbuilt or mandated before all the results come in. They also need more grid intelligence to make use of the nature of their supply. In other words, consumer incentives are the easiest way to level both expected and intermittant peaks.
Too bad the consumer can't pay an appropriate amount for the type and quantity of electricity they want. I would sure have many of my loads on the 'one-cent opportunity' breaker and only a few on the fifteen-cent guaranteed' breaker.
Bradley Collard 6.17.08
From a reliablity point of view, wind can be a nightmare. I know in West Texas where many of these wind farms exists, there are issues with voltage swings on the transmission system because so much energy is being produced and shipping it across the state to the load centers. This is especially true at night when the wind blows, demand is down, except in the load centers in East and South Texas.
Furthermore, wind needs to be treated like a fuel source. When the wind stops blowing (or blows too hard) the windmills shut down. This does not happen on a turbine by turbine case, but rather across an entire region. As more turbines go up, system operators need to have spinning reserve online to make up for the shortfall. I am not saying we need to do this across the entire area of the state, but on a region by region bases where weather patterns can shut down wind.
During the hottest part of the day in the summer in Texas, wind is usally non-existant. I don't see us depending on wind too much for peak load conditions.
Furthermore, more environmentalists are starting to go against wind (pardon the pun). These huge windmills destroy landscapes and ruin the natural beauty of open landscapes. However, land owners love the deals they are getting on their leases to build these wind farms. Tax districts love them as they are providing an asset base to the communities.
Wind has its place in the mix of energy resources, but I personally believe we all seem to be getting carried away by the wind--pardon the pun. Renewables need to include other fuel resources that will get us away from coal, gas, and oil, and will be just as dependable as anything else.
Dare I say that Nuclear Power needs to be considered with standard plant designs for the short run to reduce the greenhouse effects, and to supply the power that North America demands? Maybe at least until other alternatives are developed.
Todd McKissick 6.17.08
Bradley, Great discussion. I have a question for you. You state that you need more spinning reserve due to wind's intermittancies. Could you deal with this issue if you instead broadcast a price increase which would instantly entice more generation AND reduce demand in direct proportion to that price increase?
Supposing you learned how responsive that feedback was to price changes, how stable would the grid, the price and the predictions become?
With this newfound power (pardon the pun), how could new large scale generation be predicted and justified?
Bradley Collard 6.17.08
Spinning reserve is a term used in the industry that allows generators to respond to a sudden loss of generation or a sudden demand for load. It is usually what happens initially as part of frequency response. What is dangerous on the Eastern Interconnection is that if you suffered a large loss of generation, it could overwhelm transmission lines, as the rest of the grid responds. Overloading transmission lines could cause an Interconnection Reliability Operating Limit (IROL) or locally a System Reliability Operating Limit (SOL). IROLs and SOLs may require the system operator to shed load to get out of an emergency. Spinning reserves in the area where the generation was lost in this case could overcome the IROL or SOL.
Announcing price increases to deal with loss of generation is not an effective way of dealing with emergencies.
In Texas, this issue is not an operating limit issue as much as it becomes a generation issue. Because it is a smaller system, frequency disturbances (loss of generation) affects the system in a more recognizable manner. The frequency dips. Just a couple of years ago, ERCOT was looking at studies placing almost 20,000 megawatts of wind generation in West and Central Texas. I think when wind gets this big in Texas, ERCOT will have to change the way it accounts for the wind generation and the possible loss of it.
Usually wind is predictbable, but how do you account for the sudden loss of wind that is not forecast? Perhaps it is a percentage of online wind resources that need to be backed up with spinning reserves. I am not sure. I do know we need to address these issues as concentrated wind farms are put into regions where it could affect the system.
The fact is that wind will need to be backed up by other generation which does not make wind all that green. . . Just a little greener.
Todd McKissick 6.17.08
Bradley, I think you miss the point of my question. In previous threads, we've discussed at length, a new market system in which consumer demand reduction would substitute for spinning reserve. With the details ironed out, it becomes nothing more than semantics to have customers' DG systems come online from the same process. My hope is that this can all be driven by a single local price signal that everyone watches like the stock market. When the price increases, some people's loads automatically turn down while other's DG kicks in and other PHEV switch from charging to discharging. If that wasn't enough to counter the event, then the price if raised further. This brings in more supply and cuts load as well. We've discussed ways to make this entire transaction happen withing a few seconds, so it is possible to react to events such as wind dropping off.
Obviously it is not possible until you have consumers with price sensitive loads and DG systems, but I contend that with only the broadcasting of instantaneous price, it could slowly phase in with no side effects. Down the road there could be more swing available from these two price dependant 'supplies' than the max swing possible from daily peak plus wind combined. This grid response, in how it mimicks a storage facility, is the only way I see wind moving from the 'opportunity' category to the 'bulk supplier' one while remaining fairly green.
Bradley Collard 6.17.08
Loss of generation is immediate. The need for generation is immediate. Immediate response is in a matter of a few seconds not a few minutes. This type of market could be useful to meet peak demands but I don't see this as a substitute for a sudden loss of generation.
I also seriously doubt that consumers will watch the price of electricity. Most everyone I know is busy doing other things. When there is a sudden loss of large generation, the frequency immediately dips and something has to respond. In Texas they had the 3-9-5 rule at 59.3 cycles, 5% of load would be dropped immediately. At 58.9 cycles, 10% of the load would be shed immediatley. At 58.5 another 10% of the system load would be gone immediatley. I am talking in a fraction of a second.
The idea of frequency response is to arrest the decay of the frequency. That is usually done by spinning reserves or other frequency monitoring devices that will shed large industrial loads to arrest the frequency decline.
I don't see how your plan will give the interconnection the response that is needed.
Jeffrey Anthony 6.17.08
Bradley Collard -- you are mischaracterizing the challenges with wind power in West Texas -- there are challenges and issues that ERCOT needs to deal with, but we could do without the inaccurate and bogus claims you are making in your posts above.
Paul Stevens -- you ask about wind power when the subsidies end -- are you prepared to ask the same question for other electric generating sources such as nuclear power that has had subsidies in places since the 1970's or the oil, natural gas, or coal industries who have had federal subsidies in place for decades ? Until you are prepared to put all generating technologies on a level playing field, there is no reason to penalize renewable energy technology which are just now becoming mainstream and cost competitive to eliminate the federal support of renewable energy that has just recently enabled it to become competitive -- while subsidies for technologies that have been commerical decades are continued without question.
Kent Wright -- if you read more closely, you would see that those state percentages are energy figures -- in terms of megawatt-hours produced by wind generators divided by the total amount of megawatt-hours consumed in the state.
Don / Len / Julie -- the wind industry is becoming mainstream and is contributing to our energy mix in the U.S. and will continue to do so. I encourage you to learn more about the industry and understand the technology better rather than dismiss it and couch it in fear-mongering which does a disservice to anyone reading these posts. Learn more at: www.20percentwind.org
Jeff Anthony American Wind Energy Association
Bradley Collard 6.17.08
I was just charactizing it on what I know of 14 years operating the grid in Texas. I am an ERCOT certified System Operator and a Certified NERC Reliability System Operator. My only concern has always been the operational security of the system. I don't have a bone to pick in this fight, other than to make sure the lights stay on. I think wind has a place in the mix, but as you agree there are issues.
Many of the people that operate the grid do get a little tired of the push for an energy resource that does not give you what you need when you need it. When there is a high pressure system sitting over the state in August, does the wind blow at 5 PM? How much can we count on then? Not much as compared to the overall load of the system. It is not for and never will be for peaking conditions.
Inaccurate forecasting caused ERCOT problems just this past February feel free to read about it at: http://www.ercot.com/news/press_releases/2008/nr02-27-08
Jeffrey Anthony 6.17.08
Yes, Bradley -- there are issues and challenges to integrating wind power -- it imposes additional challenges on operators, without a doubt. But we in the wind industry always hope the benefits are considered when adding amounts of additional wind power. In the Texas event on Feb 26th, inaccurate scheduling caused the problems -- a wind forecasting system, which ERCOT had not yet integrated into their operations correctly predicted the ramp down in wind power output over a three hour period. If the operators on shift had had the benefit of that wind forecast, it would have made their jobs easier. With wind power and increasing adoption of it, we are striving to give operators the tools they need to accomodate increasing amounts of a non-dispatchable resource, as was also noted here:
Which listed this at the end of the report: Action Items ERCOT shall determine requirements for early integration of the Nodal Wind generation forecast into the current Zonal operating system to incorporate the forecast in the short term planning applications in place of the Resource Plan values for wind. With earlier detection of approaching deficits, additional capacity can be procured so it is available when needed.
Len Gould 6.17.08
Jeffrey: Your assumed knowledge of my abilities and resulting conclusions is having the standard effect, actually opposite of your probable intention. BTW, I at least have the ability to read the actual output of Ontario's 472 MW of wind generation on May 8,2008 (randomly selected, but appears fairly representative). it ranged from providing 174 MW (36.86% nameplate) at midnight to 19 MW (4.03% nameplate) on peak. Even if predictable, it's of very little real use when the chips go down, except as a provider of low priced fuel replacement IF given a new market system where customers can be informed in realtime of the availability of same, and activate systems such as PHEV chargers etc. to exploit it. There MAY be SOME argument that wind should be allowed to exploit existing spinning and rapidly despatchable reserves to a point, but mostly those reserves were put there for reasons which pre-date the advent of wind generation, and have not changed significantly since.
Bradley: -- "I also seriously doubt that consumers will watch the price of electricity. Most everyone I know is busy doing other things." With current state-of-art digital logic technology, why would you propose such an antiquated concept? That's a straw-man argument. The task of managing local site usage via (as yet unavailable, but obviously easily implemented) smart appliances, thermostats, PHEV chargers and perhaps even DG CHP units, based on easily defined broadcast signals from the distribution system, is well within the capabilities of current digital logic system, and only awaits the "defined broadcast signals" bit from you guys.
Len Gould 6.17.08
And Jefffery, I might also note to you that in Ontario's grid, off-peak fuel replacement is competing with nuclear and run-of-river hydro baseload generation, which are already nameplate above typical grid minimum loads, and have almost no fuel costs. They commonly bid into the SMD market off-peak at 1 to 1.2 cents/kwh. The only solution for wind here at least, other than the 100% subsidies now being provided, is to implement smart and customer-controlled (via parameter setting by customers into their controller's parameter sets) technology on the customers with financial incentives to flatten out the load curves so wind can become useful whenever it is available regardless of time of day. See my articles this site.
Jeffrey Anthony --- I did read the article carefully and saw all the earmarks of another intentionally vague press release. Notably missing are the words “megawatt-hours” when speaking of electricity. And whereas “megawatts” is used abundantly, the all-important term “capacity factor” is not mentioned either. If you will read more carefully you will see that I merely challenged wind proponents to be more forthright in making claims of the wind’s potential. Almost invariably gushy promotionals and press releases make claims of wind-generated electricity in terms of POWER, not ENERGY, that is, stating it in terms of megawatts, not megawatt-hours – in other words, nameplate capacity not performance. Yet when one does the math, it all too often reveals that state and local officials are meeting (or hoping to meet) their mandated percentage goals in MW of power capacity, not deliverable electrical energy. Perhaps the deception is done by politicians and not the wind industry, but by now it matters little whom to blame. The fact is the public is largely misled and you, as an industry leader, and Mr. Silverstein, as an unabashed proponent, have not done enough to dispel false claims. My challenge is well-founded.
If the numbers are correct (e.g., if 3.3% of the electricity for TX is by wind) that means the great state of Texas is currently enjoying a 35% capacity factor in wind-produced electricity with 4300 MW of capacity (calculation based on the total electricity generated in Texas of 400,582,878 megawatt-hours; November 2007 EIA data, http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/e_profiles_sum.html). Is this true based on actual performance data or is it a hoped for future performance based on promises? Can’t get an answer to that from the article either. A capacity factor of 35% is a remarkable achievement and if so said is true, why can’t you developers and promoters come right out and say it? It is my considered opinion after doing a lot of reading on the subject, including the writings of the public at large in opinion blogs, that the public is largely energy illiterate and you are not helping if you can’t clearly state the difference between a megawatt and a megawatt-hour.
While you are at it, why don’t you deal more openly with a few other realities of the situation such as the true costs of wind after figuring in the vast miles of new transmission lines needed (at least one million $ per mile as I have heard it) and also the amount of backup generation/storage needed for grid reliability. Perhaps the capacity factors of wind in the region are as large as you suggest they are, but apparently it’s only in the Texas panhandle where there are few consumers outside of Amarillo (http://www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/re_wind_maps.htm).
There was a report published in Energy Central sometime this past year that wind generators in the neighboring Oklahoma panhandle had to be curtailed because of the lack of transmission lines to connect to actual users. I read another article recently on the situation in Spain stating to the effect that grid connected wind farms are so overdeveloped that they can’t put them all in service on days of perfect wind speeds because the natural variations in wind would destabilize the grid too much. How are you addressing these factors? Yes they are mentioned in the article, but the magnitude of the problem and possible solutions are conveniently ignored.
In closing, I hope by now you realize that I am not refuting anything said in the article. I am merely asking for full disclosure because such vast amounts of money and resources are at stake.
Bradley Collard 6.18.08
Jeffery--one thing I was encouraged about in Texas before I left this past March is the fact they were getting more diverse in the location of these wind farms. Nodal generation of wind resources will make the wind schedules more reliable because I do not believe you will have all your eggs in one basket. I still think as Texas adds more capacity--and they will, that ERCOT is going to have to start looking at wind in an area (nodal or region) as a single contingency. Wind forecasts cannot be right 100% of the time, and therefore as we begin to rely on wind more, my thinking is that there will have to be some sort of spinning reserve requirement (not at 100% but maybe a lower percentage for the area--again that is just my belief base on past experiences) or some other resource to offset the possible loss of wind generation. Even if you have a better forecasting system, you will still need generation available to make up for the ramp down that you will have to perform should the wind change. My comments I made earlier was out of frustration. However, we do know that wind does not provide droop characteristics as more conventional units have. My current concept is of wind is that when the wind blows it is there and it is good, however it cannot provide frequency response with a 5% droop characteristic.
I will state it again, that wind does have its place in the mix of generation. As a trained system operator I just want to make sure we maintain the security of the system
Unless you have sat in a control room and watch the system crater with a loss of massive generation and you have seen how the other units automatically respond to bring the frequency up, I don't think I will ever be able to make you understand the kind of response you need. Utilities will have to know that 3500 MW are available for instant response in Texas--in other parts of the country it would have to be greater. That would keep us out of EECP. The response would have to be instant. The technology would have to be not only available, but installed on the system. You are probably a good 10-15 years away from the infrastructure being available and utilities and the Reliability Operators being comfortable enough with the concept. And you are assuming that enough customers will opt in for the service to help the grid out.
I can only speak on past experiences. My thinking is that people's attitudes will have to change about energy usage. Even when utilities have made public appeals, while some do respond by turning up the temperature in their homes in the summer, many others respond the opposite way. That is just the nature of the beast. Get into rolling blackouts where you only have a customer's lights out for 15 minutes at a time, and utilities and those responsible for operating the security of the grid are burned in effigy on the evening news.
The market that was described to me in an earlier post would be best suited for a peaking market and not for a spinning reserve market. I can see where it would prevent having to put on an expensive gas steam turbine during the day to have available as we go through peak. I think as you prove the benefit in one market you can start looking at it being able to provide frequency response in a spinning reserve market.
Bradley Collard 6.18.08
I do have a correction. ERCOT was studying interconnection requests for 17,000 MW not 20,000 MW as previdously stated. In early 2006, this information was true.
In 2006, ERCOT had 2,508 megawatts (MW) of wind generation in service and at least 4,850 MW of wind resources likely to be in service by the end of 2007. At the time, interconnection analysis requests are being processed for an additional 17,000 MW in wind generation.
ERCOT is currently looking at 12,000-24,000 MW of wind generation and the cost to add the additional transmission infrastructure ranging from $2.95b to $5.75b.
Todd McKissick 6.18.08
Interesting to see the feathers getting ruffled up from simple misunderstandings. I'll stay out of the capacity vs. quantity discussion but the spinning reserve vs. peak shifting does seem to need some clarification.
Bradley, I'm trying to understand better here. You stated at one point that spinning reserve needs a response time of a few seconds not a few minutes and then later stated it needs to be instantaneous. Since you're referring to wind's sudden drop off at a large wind farm, I seriously doubt that it's instant. The wind doesn't stop across the whole field that fast and if it did, the turbines couldn't even spin down or brake in less than a couple seconds. So, for spinning reserve response, it seems to me that 99% worst case would be to need maybe 1000 MW in 2 seconds and the balance of your 3500 MW estimate in 5-10 seconds. If that's realistic, then we're in the same ballpark. Obviously, if you're referring to a substation or transmission line going down, it's a different story but not blamable on wind.
The questions I posed earlier were mainly directed at peak shifting, as you noticed, but in an ideal situation they could be called upon for much of your spinning reserve needs as well. Certainly, they could respond in the 2-10 second range. I can ping a website in China and get response times of 1/4 second, so why couldn't a local price sensitive appliance turn off from a broadcast price? Having designed and installed complex SCADA systems, I can tell you that its easily doable.
The best part of this new approach is that the customer only needs to choose to buy the appliance and plug it in. They don't have to watch any prices themselves. With every million of these devices in a region, you could have around 100 MW on call, but the best part is that you could call for it in as large or small of an increment as you wanted.
Now add distributed generation and PHEVs to the mix and we're into the 1000's of MW. Keep in mind also that all of this is past-the-transmission-line load so it eliminates the transmission load and it's associated losses.
With this market structure, it now becomes very easy for some 'energy storage' type of facility to make their business case. They could monitor the price swing as it follows the daily peak and capitalize on its ability to forcast it. With relatively few of these scattered about and with rapid response times, they would be more than happy to supply your emergency event shortfall for the half hour of $1/kwh prices. Are you starting to see how this would evolve into a more responsive and automated grid? As I see it, this is the end state of this approach that's being promoted. The best part is however fast the customers sign on determines the extra capacity available and directly increases the stability of the grid by that amount. In the interum, all the existing grid stabilizing tools will be available and will only be phased out as much as this system proves it can cover for. ...all as a result of TOU prices and under the control of a single published price.
Would you rather we keep enough reserve spinning 24/7 to cover a) all the wind, b) the largest transmission leg, AND c) the largest single nuclear reactor at every moment in the future or would you like demand and DG to migrate towards being automatically responsive to events for almost no cost?
Bob Amorosi 6.18.08
An example of how unprepared our utility industry is for a looming crisis, consider the breaking news article at the link below. http://ca.autos.yahoo.com/p/661/new-kits-turn-any-car-into-a-plug-in-hybrid
It describes the rapidly emerging conversion kits appearing at car dealerships to convert a hybrid vehicle into a Plug-in-Hybrid-Electric-Vehicle, and now even convert ANY VEHICLE to a PHEV that doubles fuel economy. The kit technology manufacturers were clever to market these technologies directly to consumers. Due to the skyrocketing price of oil, they are sensing that many consumers are already weighing their options to dump their existing vehicles in search of something more affordable.
It is not unthinkable now to predict within several years there could be perhaps 1 in 5 drivers in the US plugging in every day or night to recharge, maybe more. This amounts to literally millions of heavy load battery chargers operating for hours each day. Can you just imagine the impact in total energy demand on the nation's electricity grid and its ability to handle it without massive investments and soon.
Bradley Collard 6.18.08
It will be interesting. Peak demands in the summer are usually around 5pm. Peak demands in the winter can be 4-6 AM. If we can only get people to charge them up from 10 PM to 2 AM we will be doing great!
All kidding aside, I think the oil companies will reduce the price of gas before this becomes a major issue to keep us all hooked on gas. I do like the possibilities and you are right, it would produce a lot more demand.
Time to build more transmission, distribution, wind, and nuke facilities. $$$
Len Gould 6.18.08
Bradley: Now the discussion is come back around to what I was talking about, smart grid extended out onto customers sites to enable flattening of the load curve and to ensure / encourage PHEV charging only off-peak, in order to avoid the "Time to build more transmission, distribution" part of your above. The wind and nukes will be needed, but to replace gas-fired peakers and to sustain heavy off-peak PHEV charging etc. as the cost of imported LNG makes gas-fired central electrical generation infeasible.
And I tend to agree with Todd, I can't see ERCOT very often needing 3,500 MW of instantaneous reserve. The instantaneous requirement should be MUCH lower than that, with the balance made up from fast-response automated load reductions based on inherint contract parameters built into the market systems.
Bradley Collard 6.19.08
There will always be cyclical changes in the load curves even with the newer technology. One arguement is that as the load curve flattens, people will have little incentive to invest in the tools that will allow them to keep the curve flat. It will be an added expense with little return on their investment because as the load curve flattens, so will prices. The market will drive it. Unless governmnets make it mandatory to build new homes with these devices.
While 3000-3500 MW of spinning or instantaneous reserves seems high, I am reminded of a couple of events in 2003. One happened at almost 2 AM on the ERCOT grid where 7200 MW of capability was lost. The frequency dipped immediately to the 59.3 where 5% of ERCOT load was shed. The other event was cascading outages that caused the blackout in the Northeast. NERC concluded that if load shed was performed, the system operators could have kept the system up.
No you don't need it often. 99.999% of the time the system operates as it should. But it is that 0.001% of the time that will cause major issues.
Len Gould 6.19.08
Bradley: "as the load curve flattens, so will prices. The market will drive it. Unless governmnets make it mandatory to build new homes with these devices. " -- I strongly agree. Market incentives to implement smart grid extension out onto the customer in a fair and uniform manner cannot work, as the incentives to invest drop as the penetration rises. The fair and most future-friendly method is to mandate the controllers be installed universally, then let the market determine how much and in what form the actual control systems or CHP DG etc. are implemented. Implementing only on new homes is far too slow a method and fails to access the economics of large-volume manufacturing and purchasing of the controller systems. Likely to wind up with only a poorly integrated and under-performing system designed by committee.
It seems to me that the loss of the equivalent of 4 to 8 nuclear plants at a single instant must be an extremely rare event and hardly cost-justifies the expense of that much spinning reserve. Who decides what events must be covered and what events will cause acceptable outages?
Len Gould 6.19.08
In the Northeast outage, timeline documents clearly show that operators has hours, not instants, to decide to shed load. It appears that much of the problem was that the methods available to them, such as blacking out entire regions, were so crude that they were too reluctant to employ them. An automated smart load management system widely implemented there should easily have been able to manage the problem itself, while raising alarms in an escalating fashion to ever-higher decision makers. It almost certainly would have avoided such a widespread blackout.
Len Gould 6.19.08
"operators has hours" should be "operators had hours"
Bradley Collard 6.19.08
NERC requirements madates all utilities operate a N-1 contingency level, but they also require you to have plans for other contingenicies as well. N-1 means normal conditions and the loss of any single breaker, transformer, transmission line, etc. However, you also treat the loss of any single item as being your two largest units you have on at one time, or some utilities treat the loss of a double circuit transmission line as a single contingency. On the flip side they treat the loss of a single bus as multiple contignecies since you can lose flow on several transmission lines at one time (I have always felt a bus should be construed as the loss of a single item and not multiple--because it is not uncommon to lose a bus).
The loss of 7200 MW is an extremely rare event. In my 26 years in the industry, the 2003 incident was the first time I ever experienced underfrequency tripping in Texas. However, it is what the industry plans for and believe me you want the protection there. Furthermore, load forecasting is not an exact science and the plans are always tweaked during the day. Things like the lack of cloud cover when it was supposed to be mostly cloudy can make load climb faster and higher on a hot summer day. In the February event this year, it was the loss of wind and the decrease in the temperatures that caused the issue in ERCOT.
You will always want some sort of response out of generators. The 5% droop allows each unit to respond to arrest the frequency decay and does not restore it to the previous level. Usually the generating company that is lacking in generation will have to make up the difference with its units or purchase power from the market, but they must restore the frequency in a certain amount of time (correct its Area Control Error ACE) . Usually the loss of generation only dips the frequency just a little and not to the UF level to trip load. The UF protection is there to protect the system from events like the 2003 ERCOT event.
It might seem redundant to have the spinning reserves, but currently and for the foreseeable future it is there to maintain system security. When you go home and turn on your computer, you want that electricity there. You always expect it to keep your refrigerator cool, your AC on, your heater blowing, to cook your food, wash your clothes, and watch your favorite shows and sporting events on the tube. It is our job in the industry to make sure those things are available to you 24 hours a day 7 days a week, 365 days out of the year. Our goal is for you to have seamless service and we strive to make sure you always have your power. However, we are far from perfect. That is why we are striving to do better.
Bradley Collard 6.19.08
All I can say about the NE event is that the planets lined up just right that day. There were multiple issues that the taskforce pointed out.
The fact is things can happen because there will always be computer failures, relay misoperations, human error, etc. I know because I have seen it happen time and time again thorughout my career. It is always easy to Monday morning quarterback an event. You want redundancy in case the planets happen to line up again. . .
Bradley Collard 6.19.08
Nuclear plant operator train for the loss of cooling capability. What are the chances of that happening in a power plant where you have off site power, and emergency generators for each unit? Perhaps nuclear power plant operators should not train for that incident because it is not cost effective.
I think you will agree that the risk is too great. If the rock gets uncovered, there is a major catastrophie.
We have the spinning reserve requirements to protect the system. The risks are too great. The political and economic costs of a blackout in Texas would be enormous.
Todd McKissick 6.20.08
Bradley, I can't tell if you are advocating this flawed system and avoiding a smoother operating one or simply explaining how it operates now and the reasons why suggested smoother system won't work. There seems to be many more flaws in the current system, simply by it's design and through no fault of the current operators than if we went to a super responsive system with millions more loads and sources under control.
I don't know the actual hardware cause of the '03 event, but is it possible it could have been better forcast and eased away from before it became a concern? For example, if temp setpoints of the trouble breaker would have caused a corresponding rise in that transmission leg's cost adder (a component of the price presented to those serviced by it) and thus backed demand off, it may have been relegated to later maintenance. Adapt this scenerio to apply to the actual cause.
I can't completely agree that implimenting this smart system would eliminate all price swings and adoption incentive. With the enormous majority of our energy coming from socially 'bad' sources, the incentive is there from some direction. More important, however, is the factories that simply cannot supply enough of their own power from clean, renewable sources. Their only hope of going fully off centralized power is to use aggregate surplus from many small sources which has two issues. It will maintain that price incentive for people to sell excess and it will also keep centralized generation in the game. Only a utopian dreamer would advocate that most of the factories could run from local DG surplus.
Another factor that will mandate the price swing remains is the simple supply and demand balance throughout the day. The price may not swing as wildly as in the beginning but it will continue and as fossil fuel prices continue to rise, there will always be price differences.
Regarding the repetition of protecting the system and the risks (of a power loss?) being too great... Utility power is flat out not reliable. Perhaps those in the upper midwest have less of that 'security' drive, but we lose power quite often. Granted, we've had a hundred tornadoes in the last month, but we've lost power for a milisecond to ten minutes at least a dozen times in the last two weeks. It's mostly due to local distribution but not always. I just don't see justifying such an enormous cost for this security you call for when there are so many other weak links before it gets to my plug. I also don't see why we should use a system where a problem in Ohio can affect those a thousand miles away. Most people would probably trade a few more tiny outages for less people relying on any one link.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.21.08
We don't need wind energy in Sweden - or maybe I should say that we don't need much wind energy. But we are going to get more than we should have because X percent of the voters have been tricked into believing that wind is the real deal, and a large percent of that X are voters or potential voters. The same mechanism is working here as with electric deregulation or the Swedish entry into the EU. Just any old lie told by celebrity politicians and journalists can be sold to the electorate, and at virtually any price.
It's too bad that Joseph Goebbels isn't alive and in business today. Among other things he would find out that you don't need an SD, SS or the presence of concentration camps to make a large number of highly educated and intelligent peope accept blatant nonsense.
Malcolm Rawlingson 6.21.08
Well put Fred, wind energy is a stupid idea on a large scale as ethanol and with capacity factors around the 20% mark can only work with subsidies. It also of course needs the reliable availability of the existing infrastructure to bail it out when the wind is not blowing. On one of the hottest days in Ontario last year the contribution by wind to approximately 26000 MW of load was just 4 MW out of several hundred nameplate capacity. And that is because the wind was not blowing - which tends to happen on hot days. One can only assume that without the nasty nukes and nasty coal plants we would have been able to operate only 4MW worth of air conditioners. Blatant nonsense - absolutely right Fred...but lots of smart people believe it - until the lights go out. Malcolm
Bob Amorosi 6.23.08
Perhaps we should focus on the real deal. The problem both in Ontario and elsewhere in North America is that we all face HUGE bills to replace our aging generator and transmission system infrastructure just to keep the lights on at current capacity levels let alone satisfy future demand growth. Combine this stark reality with AGW from carbon emissions and with skyrocketing oil prices, and you have a recipe for desperate measures, which includes fostering as much free renewable energy sources you can take advantage of, including wind.
I agree wind energy will never replace the large central stations for baseload, but when the wind DOES blow it can contribute something requiring that much less from our central stations, or in the case of Ontario that much less of very expensive power that we must occasionally import from our neighboring provinces and states.
Politicians know how tough it will be to sell the public on the looming massive infrastructure spending, so anything they can do to minimize it helps. Add AGW to the pot and this is what is driving the renewable sources and conservation push, I think.
Ferdinand E. Banks 6.23.08
Bob, the thing driving the renewable sources and conservation push is the greed, dishonesty, and stupidity of assorted politicians, journalists, academics, consultants, etc. Sure, people want a LOT of renewables - too many/much as far as I am concerned - but I agree that their wishes should be respected, and they should be given at least some of what they want. But, frankly, what's the point in praising intelligent people for buying the fiction that wind and solar can replace base load facilities.
It's exactly like this thing with the European Union. People want more and better healthcare for themselves and their families, more security, better schools for their children, and here in Sweden these things are given up to provide parasites in Brussels with a sweet life.
Bob Amorosi 6.23.08
It's truly disgusting that intelligent people in many places are being sold a fish story that solar and wind can wholesale replace base load generation. It just won't happen in our lifetimes, not unless the world goes on a massive electrical energy diet and lowers consumption by orders of magnitude. Unthinkable and impractical.
I suspect those voters, politicians, journalists, academics, and intelligent people out there you refer to are also in fact FULLY aware of the massive spending facing our electricity system just to keep the lights on, and they don't like how it is going to affect consumers' pocket books and the ballot boxes one bit. So is it really any surprise that some intelligent people WANT to believe solar and wind could potentially replace base load plants, particularly if people are unaware of the numbers in electrical engineering terms. People in general can be sold anything they like hearing, especially if they don't fully understand it.
I do think however that solar thermal generators could in distributed fashion could pose serious competition to base load plants, not replace them but put a competitive dent in them. Just imagine for a minute – direct sunlight shines something like 1.5kW of total thermal power per square meter on the earth’s surface when perpendicular to it. If all or much of that were available as electricity, just a few square meters would easily power a typical large house at peak demand times.
Bob Amorosi 6.23.08
Fred, there is considerable money being poured into solar PV technologies in labs, all in an effort to get solar panel electrical conversion efficiencies up dramatically above their historical levels of well below 20%. Nanotechnologies are reporting some breakthroughs in this area of research.
The money is being invested in this because investors, and governments, know that putting up widespread distributed solar someday could potential be far less costly than building many more large central generators. But without gains in conversion efficiencies, it is a pipe dream at best.
James Hopf 6.23.08
"Instructive that Cape Wind has now spent as long in licensing as the typical nuclear reactor did back in their day. I wonder what we learn from that strange fact?"
I've had some musings on this topic, some of which are highly cynical. These musings (not my established opinion) are described below.
An implied message about these "perfect" renewable energy technologies is that, if we just used them instead of traditional sources, all "environmental issues" would be behind us. All the strife, and contention, would be behind us. The truth is that such issues will never go away, as no sources are perfect, and all technologies have a significant local impact. In fact, it may even be that the degree of wrangling over new energy development projects (e.g., local permitting issues/fights, etc..) will not be any lower for renewable sources. In fact, they may be even higher. And it's possible that environmental groups (such as Sierra Club) have known this all along.
As many have pointed out, the overall footprint (i.e., the amount of covered/affected landscape) per amount of energy generated is MUCH higher for renewable sources like wind, biomass and central-station solar than it is for traditional sources. If you want to add 1 GW of traditional capacity, you have to consult one, maybe two local communities. If you're building additional units on an existing site, the impact is even less, and the local community is generally supportive due to job and tax benefits. On the other hand, if you want to build 1 GW equivalent of renewable capacity (e.g., 2000 wind turbines, 1.5 MW each at ~30% capacity factor), you have to consult scores (hundreds?) of communities. In short, far more people are "affected", per unit of generation. (A recent Energy Central article talked about the trouble So. Cal Edison is having meeting a state renewable energy mandate because it is having to build wind and solar farms over a huge land/wilderness area, next to many towns, over scenic areas (e.g. rigdelines) and even in national parks/reserves.)
What is the result of this? A far greater amount of local/environmental permitting process per unit of generation, as the number of interested/affected parties is so much larger. Instead of building a few large power plants at a handfull of sites (and therefore having a handful of local permitting processes), new generation projects will be coming to every local hamlet and burough, throughout rural America. And in every one there will be a drawn out permitting process. And who will be there to act as consultants to all these projects (to give expertise, advice and/or their (coveted) political blessing)? Environmental groups, of course.
Whenever I read one of the scores of articles about a local permitting battle for a windfarm, there is always a "consultant" from the Sierra Club or someother group who has been hired in one capacity or another. Also of note is how these groups are now saying that, while they're not philosophically opposed to these sources, it is imperative that the be done right, and in the right locations. (In other words, yes Virginia, there will be a long permitting process, and you better get our blessing.)
As many have pointed out, many of our large environmental groups have become like corporate entities, their main objective being their continued existence (and the justification thereof), if not outright growth. Not only continued/increased donations, but also growth of their organization (number of employees, etc..) and its influence. I simply can't believe that nobody in these organizations has thought about this, and recognized it for what it is, i.e., an unprecedented growth opportunity.
With these new, high-footprint energy options, the effects of energy production will be far more apparent and tangible, not less. There will be much more "strife", and contentious permitting battles in every corner of the country, as so many more (nearby) people are impacted. And throughout all these battles, the "priests" from our environmental groups will be there to advice, adjudicate, bless, and in general just feel (and actually be) important. So, Len, perhaps you shouldn't be surprised. Perhaps this was the plan all along.
Len Gould 6.23.08
Gosh, James. You're almost as cynical as I am. Also correct.
Bob Amorosi 6.23.08
I think the footprint problems of renewables is its biggest limitation in practice. Indeed many are NIMBYs who will never accept them.
Would the permitting process however be as daunting and affecting so many people if say in future I as a consumer had access to and wanted to buy and install a 10kW solar panel system on my residence's rooftop to power my own needs. Seems to me I only would need a municipal building permit to modify my house, and my utility's permission to connect up to the grid to sell excess power into it when I am not using all of it. My house is already there, and covering the rooftop with panels wouldn't look that unsightly to my neighbors. Do you agree ?
James Hopf 6.23.08
I, personally, do agree with you. On the other hand, people never fail to surprise me.
I often read articles about how some neighborhood associations are trying to block even rooftop solar over aesthetic issues. There was also an dispute here in California just recently concerning one neighbor's trees blocking another neigbor's solar panels. I became an issue of "green vs. green", i.e., what green cause do we want to devote our land area to (trees or solar panels). Although these cases push the issue to the unfair extreme, they are yet another illustration of the high footprint of these sources; such that they can interfere with various things. Point supply sources don't have these problems, although transmission lines do generate some opposition......
Getting back to logic. Yes, you shouldn't have to go through a significant permitting process to put solar panels on your roof (not a from a homeowner's association or anyone else). In CA, we have laws to this effect, which wipe away bureaucratic barriers to installing panels (overruling local laws/ordinances, etc...). I support such laws.
In theory, rooftop solar units (PV or thermal) are an ideal form of generation in terms of land use and other impacts. You get the benefits of clean and renewable energy (along with the benefits of distributed generation) with no net land usage (the biggest drawback for most renewables). There is no ecological impact, and in terms of aesthetics, it doesn't change the looks of the (already-existing) building much. A solar electric system generates power, at or near the point of demand, at or near the time of peak demand. Thus, they reduce the need for power lines as well as peaker plants (which rely on gas that is soon to be imported from the Middle-East).
For these systems, the only issues should be cost and practicality, and it should be totally up to the building owner. The utility shoud be required to hook you up and take your excess power (and supply power when needed). What constitutes fair financial terms for the deal however (i.e., the price for the service provided and for your excess power) is the subject of another debate. My personal view is that the hookup fee should cover all fixed costs to the utility, and the price for your excess power should be no more than the real-time wholesale price (as though you were a merchant power plant).
Jim Beyer 6.24.08
It would seem to me that if new wind projects were tied with a similar increase in interruptible demand, such as stored ice cooling, PHEV plugs, or other intermittent electrical needs, then availability problem of wind would be a non-issue. You'd still have to acknowledge the realized capacity vs. nameplate capacity, but even so, larger turbines are claiming 3 cents per kw-hr, which isn't too bad, especially compared with gasoline (with a realized cost of 40 cents per kw-hr at $4 per gallon.)
David Smith 6.24.08
I mentioned this before but it bears worth repeating. The utility I work for expected it's wind portfolio to be available 30% of the time based on vendor guarantees. In actuality, wind power was only available 6% of the time. That means that the other 94% of the time we had to call up a merchant generator and have them fire up "ole Sparky" to meet our "renewable" requirement. I might add that such last minute requests are only met with a steep premium.
Wind energy is a con, and those who keep on promoting it deserve to be bunny-hopped straight to prison.
Len Gould 6.24.08
David: I question your claimed 6%. Is that 6% capacity factor of modern machines? Where? Reference? (Even in Ontario they're getting about 17% to 19%, which is marginal but better siting should help.)
Thomas Conroy 6.25.08
"To guarantee reliable electricity supplies when wind farms produce little or no power during periods of calm or storm-related shutdowns, traditional power station capacities must be available as a reserve. This means that wind farms can only replace traditional power station capacities to a limited degree."
Thomas Conroy 6.25.08
To say that "traditional power station capacities must be available as a reserve" for when the wind does not blow ignores all energy storage solutions. Pumped hydro is today's most obvious cost effective solution, but there are many other promising technologies such as compressed air and wind asset dispersion (which we have not even begun to understand).
Wind dispatchability is a technical problem that is going to be far easier (i.e. cheaper) to solve than carbon sequestration, nuclear waste disposal, or drmatic increases in natural gas supplies.
Jeffrey Anthony 7.8.08
Lots of distortion of facts continue on this posting. There is no intent to deceive anyone, when wind projects and installations are quoted in megawatts of capacity, that is done to represent the amount of wind installed in terms of the machinery put in the ground. No one in their right mind expects or assumes that wind projects operate at 100% full capacity year-round. The wind turbines are selected and sited based on the wind regime present at a given location and installed and operated accordingly.
Similarly, gas turbine peakers are installed to operate only a handful of hours each year -- yet you don't hear people whining and claiming "conspiracy !" when they are described in terms of installed capacity [megawatts] and not in expected energy output of energy [megawatt-hours]. The same applies to wind turbines -- this is (obviously) known to everyone in the industry, including large banks and financial institutions that finance wind projects. They provide the capital for wind projects on a regular basis and are fully aware of the expected output, in megawatt-hours for any given project -- do you think somehow they are being hoodwinked to finance projects and then are somehow "surprised" that a given wind project only operates at 40% instead of the 100% capacity factor they were somehow expecting ? Give me a break....
Wind project performance is fully disclosed and available to anyone who choses to read a bit and learn the facts, as opposed to trying to create a controversy where one does not exist. If you want to see what the wind project capacity factors are really trending towards in this country, consult an authoritative source such as the following, released in May by the US DOE:
The report can be downloaded at: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/lbnl-275e.pdf
A PowerPoint presentation based on the report can be found at: http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/reports/lbnl-275e-ppt.pdf
If you rely on the mis-information from Mr. Smith, above, or the obscure number that Mr. Gould often posts here, you are going to reach erroneous conclusions about wind power. Also, if you want to believe that the wind industry is proposing to use wind energy as a baseload generating resource, then you will have a field day finding flaws in that premise -- but if you understand how wind power operates in the U.S., you will realize that wind energy is being deployed as an ENERGY resource, to displace the generation from fossil fules (coal and natural gas) in a cost-effective manner -- it is NOT being deployed nor counted on as a baseload generating technology for CAPACITY purposes. As a result, wind power is NOT required to the "backed-up" or "firmed" -- it is what it is, a cost-effective way to generate electricity, backing down fossil-fuel generation, and preventing harmful emissions from entering our atmosphere as a result. Read more and learn more at: www.20percentwind.org
Jeff Anthony, American Wind Energy Association
Thomas Saidak 7.11.08
As a middle school science teacher, it must be my ignorance showing. I do not understand the fuss about wind power and reliability. Current off the shelf technology such as the sodium sulphur battery would go along way to solve any grid problems. See http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/2007-07-04-sodium-battery_N.htm While expensive to day, it seems rather feasible to bring down the cost. Compressed air technologies also seem rather easy to develop and deploy. It also strikes me that a key issue here may be lack of experience. From reading the posts and links, it looks like there seems to be a lack of information or good modeling available. Did I miss something?