Sunday, October 30, 2005

Powerful New Map: Where the Wind Blows

Powerful New Map: Where the Wind Blows
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 23 May 2005
06:28 am ET

A new map highlights spots where there is enough wind to provide electricity to the whole world – and then some.

In putting together a global and U.S. map, researchers found wind power could provide 40 times more electricity than is needed worldwide.

Scientists gathered wind speed data from about 8,000 locations on the planet – 7,500 surface stations and 500 balloon-launch stations. They measured the wind speeds 260 feet (80 meters) above the ground surface, which is the height of a modern wind turbine’s hub.

At the surface stations, they could only measure wind speeds at 33 feet (10 meters), but they developed a method to figure out what that meant for winds at the more important height.

They found that 13 percent of the 8,000 spots were capable of averaging Class 3 wind speeds throughout the course of the year. Class 3 winds are greater than 15.4 mph (6.9 meters per second), which is considered strong enough to be economically feasible.

"What this means is quite amazing," Cristina Archer, of Stanford University and co-author of this study, told LiveScience. "If you pick 10 random locations on the planet, that means one, or even two, of these are suitable for wind power generation."

If harnessed, these sites with Class 3 and higher wind speeds could provide 72 terawatts of electricity – enough to run 1.2 trillion 60-watt light bulbs or 48 billion toasters.

"We would be fools not to use it," Archer said.

About 2.5 million wind turbines -- together capturing about 20 percent of what's available based on the new maps -- would be needed to produce all the world's electrical needs, Archer said.

The wind doesn’t blow constantly, however, and it cannot be adjusted to follow electricity demand. Archer hopes that one day the bulk of our electricity will come from green energies, like wind power, with the gaps being filled by more reliable and traditional energies, like the burning of fossil fuels.

This new map is seen as a step in that direction. It demonstrates where power companies could get the best bang for their buck in wind farms – mostly near coastlines.

"I wouldn’t necessarily recommend installing a wind farm based only on our map. But it’s definitely a starting point," Archer said.

The results, and additional maps, are detailed in the May issue of The Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

Scottish Power to build windfarm in US

Scottish Power to build windfarm in US

Fri, 28th Oct 2005, 07:58

Scottish Power said its US unit PPM Energy plans to build a 200 megawatt windfarm in Washington State for $270m.

The build is expected to be completed in the summer of 2006 and will be immediately earnings enhancing.

The group said PPM is in advanced talks to sell the generated output under a long-term contract to a major utility.

"PPM owns seven wind projects, with Big Horn being the largest wind project we have developed to date," said PPM CEO Terry Hudgens. "We are pleased with the enthusiasm of Klickitat County and the surrounding community for this outstanding project with many local benefits."

PPM Energy has around 1,600 MW of wind energy under its control in operation or construction and its target is to reach at least 2,300 MW online by 2010.

Gamesa agrees to sell wind farms to Iberdrola for about 900 mln eur

Gamesa agrees to sell wind farms to Iberdrola for about 900 mln eur
10.28.2005, 04:43 AM

MADRID (AFX) - Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA said it reached an agreement to sell wind farms to Iberdrola SA with a total capacity of 700 megawatts for about 900 mln eur, confirming the broad details of an earlier report in Expansion.

In a statement, Gamesa said the wind farms are in development and the agreement with the Basque utility runs from 2006-2009, with the option to extend to 2012.

It said 600 MW corresponds to installations in Spain and 100 MW in Italy.

The wind turbine manufacturer noted that the two companies have been negotiating the deal for several months.

In 2002, Iberdrola acquired around 1,000 MW of wind energy installations from Gamesa, in which it owns a direct and indirect 19 pct.

Nation's first offshore wind farm could rise in Gulf

Nation's first offshore wind farm could rise in Gulf
By Craig Salters/
Friday, October 28, 2005

When it comes to offshore wind projects - and pretty much everything else - Texas likes to do things its own way.

However, when it comes to alternative offshore energy, the Lone Star State is quite literally "exceptional." The state's jurisdiction regarding its coastal waters extends more than three times farther than the three-mile limit reserved for Massachusetts and other states.

That distinction came into play Monday when Texas, hailing "a new era for energy development in America," signed a lease agreement to allow an offshore wind farm seven miles off the coast of Galveston Island.

"Coastal wind power has come to the United States and found a home in Texas," said Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, the agency in charge of such decisions.

News of the lease agreement - announced in a big, big way by a state which made plain its intention to host the nation's first offshore wind farm - has little bearing on a developer's plan to construct 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound. The announcement, however, highlights both the unique regulatory status enjoyed by Texas and its "been there, done that" attitude to offshore energy projects.

Like many Texas stories, the hero behind its offshore boundary of 10.36 miles, or three marine leagues, is Sam Houston. It was Houston who, as president of the republic, successfully maintained traditional offshore boundaries when Texas entered the Union in 1845. More than a century later, in the 1950s, the state defeated an attempt at federal control of its tidelands.

"We came in on our own terms as a sovereign nation," explained Patterson. "Because of Sam Houston's foresight, we now have the regulatory authority to move forward with less federal red tape. Who would have thought that the hero of San Jacinto would help bring wind energy to Texas?"

The Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency which until recently had been in charge of the Nantucket Sound proposal, will have permitting authority over the Texas turbines but had nothing to do with the lease agreement.

"It's not their land," said Jim Suydam, press secretary for the Texas General Land Office. "It's Texas state land."

The lease calls for Galveston-Offshore Wind, a division of Louisiana-based Wind Energy Systems Technologies, to construct 50 offshore wind turbines on an 11,355-acre footprint in the Gulf of Mexico. The turbines, which could take as long as five years to build, would feature hubs 260 feet above sea level. Cape Wind says the hubs of its windmills would be 246 feet above sea level.

The $300 million project is expected to produce enough electricity to power roughly 40,000 homes.

In return, Texas will receive a minimum of $26.5 million in royalties over the course of the 30-year lease. Those funds, like those received from oil and gas leases, will be deposited into the state's Permanent School Fund.

"I have encountered no opposition," said Patterson, who added that studying the project's potential effects on migratory birds was an important issue that would be addressed. "We're not putting up one nickel and we're getting clean energy right next to the grid and millions in royalties, so I'd say it's a good deal."

A different mindset

Patterson, a former Marine and Vietnam War veteran who keeps a gun in his boot and the current price of natural gas at his fingertips, said he was aware of the controversy surrounding the construction of a wind farm on Nantucket Sound; he also said he had a hard time understanding it.

"I think it's a different mindset," said Patterson, who noted that, to Texans, offshore oil and gas rigs represent a booming economy. "Folks down here are comfortable with energy and this is just another form of energy."

Charles Vinick, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a key opponent of the proposed wind farm in federal waters off Cape Cod, said he does not know enough specifics about the Texas project to offer an opinion, but generally supports wind power.

"There will be wind projects announced throughout the country and, in general, that's a good thing for all of us and a positive step," said Vinick, whose group has expressed support for alternative energy but vocal opposition to the project planned for the Sound.

According to Vinick, who said he was aware of Texas' unique circumstances, what is most important is that there be some established public process for wind farm projects. Just two weeks ago Vinick hailed the federal government's decision to give the Minerals Management Service, a bureau of the Department of Interior, permitting and leasing authority for renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf. That decision effectively put MMS, an agency experienced in leasing offshore gas and oil projects, in charge of Cape Wind Associates' proposal to construct a wind farm on a 24 square-mile section of Horseshoe Shoals.

"That's the way we should grow this industry," said Vinick, referring specifically to MMS' history of "programmatic review" of all projects.

Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind, said that his company learned about the Texas lease agreement late last week when state officials called to ask for video footage of working offshore wind turbines.

"It's good news," said Rodgers. He noted that the Texas project "would not happen overnight" and that the possibility of Cape Wind being the first offshore wind farm still exists. "From our standpoint, any credible wind initiative in the United States is inherently positive. It validates the technology and validates the benefits."

Rodgers also acknowledges Texas' unique rules regarding coastal jurisdiction and, like Vinick, sees many positives in MMS's new role as lead review agency for the Cape Wind proposal.

Before MMS, the Army Corps of Engineers served as the lead review agency for the project and was in the process of finalizing an Environmental Impact Statement from an earlier draft. Although that responsibility now goes to MMS, the corps still has a role in issuing a Section 10 permit based upon the federal Rivers and Harbors Act.

The Texas project

Location: Gulf of Mexico, off Galveston

Developer: for Galveston-Offshore Wind

Site: 11,355 acres

Wind turbines: 50

- Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office

- Mark Rodgers, Cape Wind Associates

Wind of change for China's energy

Wind of change for China's energy

Thursday, October 27, 2005 Posted: 1220 GMT (2020 HKT)
HUITENGXILE, China (CNN) -- Once the stomping ground of Genghis Khan, the heart of rural Inner Mongolia is an unlikely center of innovation.

Here, the sheep graze in the shadows of 94 turbines scattered across the landscape, which pump millions of watts of renewable power into China's grid.

Sitting 2,000 meters above sea level, there are plans to make the Huitengxile Wind Power Plant the largest wind farm in China.

In such an energy-hungry country the plant's output is a drop in the bucket, but wind farms could be the solution to the problem of how to keep powering the country's economic growth.

"There are many favorable conditions here. We have abundant wind resources, and we're close to the national power network. This is becoming a world class wind farm," plant director Li Yilun told CNN.

The turbines are imported from Denmark, Spain, Germany and Holland. The newest, biggest and most powerful were built by American-based giant GE Energy.

The company's turbines are in use all over China, including at a plant just outside Shanghai.

GE Power China CEO Steve Fludder told CNN that during the past year, the wind business has picked up in China.

"Each one of these turbines generates 1.5 megawatts or 15,000 kilowatts of power -- that's enough power for approximately 1,000 Chinese homes," he said.

"China is really at a crossroads in its overall energy policy. China is really shifting from a focus on buildup of capacity in the last few years to a focus on more environmentally friendly technologies."

It is not hard to see why -- Chinese cities are choking on dirty air, and the primary cause is coal, which has been fueling China's staggering pace of growth, and making it one of the most polluted countries on Earth.

A renewable energy law was passed this year, setting lofty goals for clean power.

That is good news for projects like the wind farm, but its backers admit it is still tough to compete with coal because wind is not cheap.

Wu Jinglong, vice president of North United Power Corporation, told CNN.

"We have developed slowly because of the low price of coal electricity. The investment in a wind farm is much higher than for a traditional coal power station."

Large companies like GE are hoping to use their vast resources to bring down the cost.

"We draw upon our aircraft engine to design the blades. We call upon our locomotive business for the gearing technology," Fludder said.

"We have a multitude of other businesses that have a technology base that supports the technology that it takes to make wind energy cost-effective and reliable. "

Small entrepreneurs want in too.

Engineer and entrepreneur Zhimin Lin left the software business to help start a turbine manufacturing company in his home province.

"The wind power industry will be big time from now on. And China, in the next five to 15 years will grow bigger than 100 per cent a year," he told CNN.

There is good reason for his optimism -- New wind farms are springing up all over China.

And with every turn of the blades, China moves a few watts closer to easing its power crunch.

CNN's James MacDonald contributed to this report.

GE Technology to Power New Wind Energy Project in Ontario

GE Technology to Power New Wind Energy Project in Ontario
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, October 21, 2005: -- Brascan Power has selected GE Energy as the turbine supplier for the proposed Prince Wind Farm that could add up to 99 megawatts of wind power capacity to the electricity grid in the province of Ontario, Canada.

The project, which will utilize 66 of GE's 1.5-megawatt wind turbine-generators, is expected to enter commercial operation in the second half of 2006. GE will operate and maintain the turbines for five years.

GE Energy's 1.5-megawatt wind turbines are the largest assembled in North America and are among the world's most widely used megawatt-class wind turbines, with more than 3,300 now installed globally.

Located in the township of Prince approximately eight kilometers northwest of Sault Ste. Marie, the Prince Wind Farm will be one of the first large-scale wind farms to be built in Ontario. The project will further expand and diversify the power generation portfolio of Brascan Power, a company with almost 100 years of experience in Ontario's power industry.

The estimated annual generation for the Prince Wind Farm is expected to provide enough electricity to serve close to 20,000 Ontario households. The power will be supplied under a power purchase agreement with the government of Ontario.

According to Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, "Over the next five years, federal and provincial government policies and targets are on track to facilitate a ten-fold increase in the size of Canada's wind energy industry." Currently, the country has 590 megawatts of installed wind energy capacity, enough to power more than 200,000 Canadian households.

"Canada, a country with tremendous wind power potential, is making great strides toward maximizing the environmental and economic benefits associated with this abundant, renewable energy resource," said Robert Gleitz, general manager of GE Energy's wind segment. "We are pleased that GE technology has been selected to support a number of wind projects in Canada."

In addition to the Prince Wind Farm, other major projects in Canada announced this year featuring GE technology include Erie Shores Wind

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Gas Station Chain Turns to Wind Power

Gas Station Chain Turns to Wind Power
September 21, 2005

Seattle, Washington [] Safeway announced plans to purchase renewable energy to offset the power needed for the company's 270 fuel stations in the United States, with the majority located in the Seattle Division region encompassing Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

Under the partnership, Safeway has agreed to purchase 78 million kWh in the form of wind energy. By doing so, the company becomes one of the nation's largest buyers of green energy in the U.S. Safeway is now the only retailer to purchase enough renewable energy to power 100 percent of its U.S. fuel stations. Currently, the Seattle Division operates 71 fuel stations and will increase their locations to 76 by year's end. Through a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Safeway becomes one of the largest buyers of green energy in the United States and an EPA "Green Power Partner." EPA's Green Power Partnership is a voluntary partnership between the EPA and organizations that pledge to replace a portion of their electricity consumption with renewable energy.

"Safeway has built a longstanding reputation for taking a leadership role in protecting our environment," said Cherie Myers, Director of Public & Government Affairs. "By powering our fuel stations with wind energy we are following suit with our commitment to give back to our communities by making them a better and safer place to live."

Under the partnership, Safeway has agreed to purchase 78 million kWh in the form of wind energy. By doing so, the company becomes one of the nation's largest buyers of green energy in the U.S. Safeway is now the only retailer to purchase enough renewable energy to power 100 percent of its U.S. fuel stations.

"The EPA applauds Safeway's fuel stations for being among the largest commercial purchasers of green power in the United States," said Blaine Collison, program director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership. "Safeway is leading by example and setting a standard for environmental partnership."

Transmission Upgrade Propels 150 MW Wind Energy Project

Transmission Upgrade Propels 150 MW Wind Energy Project
October 12, 2005

Dayton, Washington [] Many of the best wind resources are not always located near power transmission lines and this factor can stifle many a prospective wind project development. The completion of new transmission investments in the Northwest US will help propel a new large wind power project.

"Without efficient, reliable transmission, we wouldn't be able to reap energy from the wind."

- Steve Wright, BPA administrator This week, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) completed construction of the $5 million Tucannon River Substation, which will transmit power from Puget Sound Energy's Hopkins Ridge Wind Energy Project to Puget's customers in western and central Washington. The 83-turbine project is expected to generate 50 average MW, enough energy to serve 50,000 homes.

"BPA is using its region-wide transmission system to bring power from wind farms to consumers in population centers," said Steve Wright, BPA administrator. "This usually involves construction of new facilities like the Tucannon River Substation. Without efficient, reliable transmission, we wouldn't be able to reap energy from the wind."

To connect the project to the grid, BPA constructed the new 115-kV Tucannon River switching station near Dayton, adjacent to BPA's Walla Walla-North Lewiston 115-kV transmission line. Power is expected to start flowing this week from the new Hopkins Ridge Collector substation and the Tucannon River Substation.

"The remote location of this wind farm posed several challenges both in integrating the project into the Tucannon facility and wheeling power," said Tony Rodrigues, BPA's transmission account executive, who oversees generation interconnection. "This is a good example of excellent cooperation between BPA and Puget Sound Energy to get the job done."

Blue Sky Wind LLC, builder of the Hopkins Ridge Wind Energy Project in Columbia County, Washington, is installing one turbine a day and is on schedule to complete the project this fall with commercial operation under way by year-end.

BPA is also working on 10 new projects from wind developers to integrate about 1,200 MW into the Northwest grid by the end of 2007.