Something in the air: Several random wind energy updates

Something in the air: Several random wind energy updates

Summary: It's been so still here in northern New Jersey for the past week that I can't imagine using the technology that I'm going to mention in this post. And yet the wind has been known to bend the trees in my yard, like kelp responding to a tidal surge.

TOPICS: IT Employment

It's been so still here in northern New Jersey for the past week that I can't imagine using the technology that I'm going to mention in this post. And yet the wind has been known to bend the trees in my yard, like kelp responding to a tidal surge. So, you can imagine what's in the air out in the U.S. plains states, where National Wind, a developer of utility-scale, community wind projects, continues to woo local landowners.

This time, National Wind is in partnership with Dakota Wind Energy in Eden, S.D., which now has about 40,000 acres of land earmarked for a community wind farm. I wrote about National Wind in July, so you can read more about their business model in this posting. But what makes the group unique is that the landowners are actually investors in the completed project.

The company needs about 75,000 acres of land in order to create 750 megawatts of wind projects. The first phase is expected to be built in three to five years. Incidentally, the National Wind press release quotes a sort of interesting statistic, that it has in turn pulled from Wind Powering America and the National Renewable Energy Lab. That is, for every 100 megawatts of installed wind capacity, here are 10 to 20 permanent local jobs created as well as 40 to 140 temporary jobs (in the construction and survey phase).

Incidentally, now that the hard-core campaigning is under way, I'd love to hear both presidential candidates talk more about cleantech jobs and their economic vision. I haven't been focusing (yet) on this aspect of the election, but here are two decent posts from that outline both Obama's background and McCain's proposition via YouTube.

I digress. Here are the other two wind-related development that have crossed my inbox in the last week or two:

- Whirligig, a wind turbine vendor, has started working on projects in the city of San Francisco, which adopted back in late July an more streamlined permit process for getting residential and commercial wind turbines approved. Lo and behold as I search for relevant links to point out, I discover that local-ish paper, The New York Times, has actually written a story about small-turbine urban wind development projects in this morning's paper. Why regurgitate, when I can point? But the point is, interest is growing and aside from San Francisco, there are some relevant experiments happening in New York and Boston.

Utility companies are starting to do their part, as well. My own utility here in New Jersey includes wind within its alternative energy portfolio. Southern California Edison, one of the most progress alternative energy utilities, just signed a contract for a new project that is earmarked to generate 909 megawatts of wind power. The project is called Caithness Shepherd's Flat (run by Caithness Energy), and it will cover 30 square miles in Oregon, where 303 turbines will be installed between 2011 and 2012. Once operational, the facility should be able to generated up to 2 billion kilowatt-hours per year (which is slightly more than one-tenth of Southern California Edison's renewable portfolio).

Topic: IT Employment

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  • wind

    so what happens when the wind stops blowing?

    i see you still have not got an honest job!
    • Usually, the plan is to combine energies.

      First of all, pretty much everybody agrees that we have to diversify and not throw all of our eggs in one basket anymore. We should invest in solar, geothermal, and other technologies as well.

      Second of all, there are some places with nearly 24/7 wind that are ideal. Kansas has a lot of places where wind is pretty reliable and fairly predictable.

      Lastly, what you want to do is to use batteries and capacitors to level out the power between times of much wind and times of little wind. What's most important is that it's fairly predictable over a long period of time.
    • You use something else...

      When the wind [b]is[/b] blowing you pull less power from
      other sources, like hydro-electric. This keeps the source
      of energy (water behind a dam for hydro) in reserve and
      unused. When the wind stops blowing, you use the
      unused water to make up the difference. If you have saved
      enough water behind a dam, then you can retire the coal
      burning plant.

      I'm surprised no one (that I've seen) has talked about
      pumping water back up to a reservoir at those times when
      the wind power electricity is excess to what is needed.
      Water behind a hydro electric dam is giant battery, just
      waiting to be used. IIRC, they used to do this at Niagara
      Falls..... pump some water back up at night when the
      electricity wasn't needed by consumers.
  • Keep an eye on Kansas

    Keep an eye on KS - a governor up for election is pushing hard on creating more wind farms as part of his plan if he gets elected. He wants 20% of KS to eventually be wind power, according to his commercials.

    Sounds great - keep in mind a lot of these alternatives should be used together, as many of them don't produce enough power by themselves to power 100% of our nation. It should be combined with solar, geothermal, and even nuclear power if we want to make a decent impact.

    And oh, yeah, a perfect form of transportation to go with these clean forms of energy: The electric car.

    Switch to these alternative energies, and they can't complain about the "long tailpipe problem" with the electric car :). Doesn't sound so convincing if it gets power from a windmill :).
  • The other challenge

    I read an article recently (in the NY Times,
    I think) about the "other problem" facing
    projects like wind & solar farms. That
    problem is power transmission. There
    simply isn't sufficient power lines to move
    electricity from remote wind farms to
    Dallas, Chicago, New York, etc.

    It seems that building the wind farms will
    be the easiest part - the challenge for
    delivering wind and other naturally
    generated electricity will be the largest
    challenge, especially with various state
    commissions getting their finger in the