[ exact phrase in "" • results by date ]

[ Google-powered • results by relevance ]


News Home

Subscribe to RSS feed

Add NWW headlines to your site (click here)

Sign up for daily updates

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate $10

Donate $5

Selected Documents

All Documents

Research Links


Press Releases


Publications & Products

Photos & Graphics


Allied Groups

For taller wind turbines, generating power is a breeze  

Credit:  By Mark Jaffe, The Denver Post, www.denverpost.com 25 December 2011 ~~

The breezes are blowing stronger for the wind-power industry these days – so much so that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden had to redo its wind maps in Colorado and in states across the country.

The reason isn’t meteorological, it’s technological as wind-turbine towers get taller and blades get longer.

“The original maps were for 50-meter towers, but the industry standard is now 80 meters,” said Dennis Elliot, a principal scientist at NREL.

And as the towers have grown from 164 feet to 262 feet, they have edged into the reaches where the winds are stronger and more sustained.

Under the old map, the strongest winds in Colorado – clocked at 7.4 meters to 8.4 meters a second – were in the northeast and southeast corners of the state.

At 80 meters above ground level, the wind speeds across a large portion of the Eastern Plains and Front Range vary between 8.5 meters and 10 meters a second.

“What that has done is make Colorado’s good wind resource even better,” Elliot said.

“In places like Indiana, the 80-meter towers and technology has meant the difference between not having an economical wind source and having one,” Elliot said.

The difference in a few meters per second of wind power adds up.

The new technology combined with the steadier winds are driving down the costs of wind generation, according to economic analyses.

A California Energy Commission analysis estimated that a 0.5 meter increase in wind speed – raising the resource from “good” to “excellent” – would cut 1.2 cents off the cost of electricity from a new wind farm to 10.8 cents a kilowatt-hour.

That study was based on 50-meter winds and the costs of developing a wind farm in California.

In a U.S. Energy Information Administration study, the difference between a top wind resource and a poor one is more than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, with the best resource producing wind at 8.1 cents a kilowatt-hour.

It isn’t just that the taller towers and bigger blades capture more wind at 80 meters, it is that they can also turn more of the time.

Electricity from coal and gas is cheaper because the sources can run 70 percent to 90 percent of the time – this is called the capacity factor.

The capacity factor for wind farms has been around 30 percent, according to the American Wind Energy Industry Association, a trade group.

In Colorado, for example, the wind tends to blow at night.

“We are now getting some capacity factors to 50 percent,” said Matthew Kaplan, associate director of IHS Emerging Energy, a Boston- based consulting firm.

The result is that wind power has become more marketable, said Ron Lehr, Western representative for the wind energy association.

“You look at the new maps and there are opportunities for wind across the country,” Lehr said.

Source:  By Mark Jaffe, The Denver Post, www.denverpost.com 25 December 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding
Donate $5 PayPal Donate


News Watch Home

Get the Facts Follow Wind Watch on Twitter

Wind Watch on Facebook


© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.