Wind and Water

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS – Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects

PNAS: Global potential for wind-generated electricity , doi: 10.1073/pnas.0904101106

The potential of wind power as a global source of electricity is assessed by using winds derived through assimilation of data from a variety of meteorological sources. The analysis indicates that a network of land-based 2.5-megawatt (MW) turbines restricted to nonforested, ice-free, nonurban areas operating at as little as 20% of their rated capacity could supply >40 times current worldwide consumption of electricity, >5 times total global use of energy in all forms. Resources in the contiguous United States, specifically in the central plain states, could accommodate as much as 16 times total current demand for electricity in the United States. Estimates are given also for quantities of electricity that could be obtained by using a network of 3.6-MW turbines deployed in ocean waters with depths <200 m within 50 nautical miles (92.6 km) of closest coastlines.

CBC: Backyard wind turbine rejected by Ontario Municipal Board

An Ottawa resident who has been lobbying to put a wind turbine in his backyard in the city’s Westboro neighbourhood has been told that his project is grinding to a halt.
Graham Findlay had applied for a variance to install what’s known as an “energy ball” on his property near Island Park Drive. …

For background, visit 3G Energy Corporation.

Energies 2009: Global Assessment of High-Altitude Wind Power (pdf)
Energies 2009, 2, 307-319; doi:10.3390/en20200307

In the future, will wind power tapped by high-flying kites light up New York? A new study by scientists at the Carnegie Institution and California State University identifies New York as a prime location for exploiting high-altitude winds, which globally contain enough energy to meet world demand 100 times over.

Abstract: The available wind power resource worldwide at altitudes between 500 and 12,000 m above ground is assessed for the first time. Twenty-eight years of wind data from the reanalyses by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction and the Department of Energy are analyzed and interpolated to study geographical distributions and persistency of winds at all altitudes. Furthermore, intermittency issues and global climate effects of largescale extraction of energy from high-altitude winds are investigated.

Canadian Geographic: On with the wind

Economic uncertainties, logistical challenges and environmental debates are buffeting this fast-growing energy sector

Energy Policy: The economics of large-scale wind power in a carbon constrained world
Energy Policy 34 (2006) 395–410, doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2004.06.007

The environmental impacts of fossil-fueled electricity drive interest in a cleaner electricity supply. Electricity from wind provides an alternative to conventional generation that could, in principle, be used to achieve deep reductions (>50%) in carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel use. Estimates of the average cost of generation—now roughly 4 ¢/kWh—do not address costs arising from the spatial distribution and intermittency of wind. The greenfield analysis presented in this paper provides an economic characterization of a wind system in which long-distance electricity transmission, storage, and gas turbines are used to supplement variable wind power output to meet a time-varying load. We find that, with somewhat optimistic assumptions about the cost of wind turbines, the use of wind to serve 50% of demand adds ~ 1–2 ¢/kWh to the cost of electricity, a cost comparable to that of other large-scale low carbon technologies. Even when wind serves an infinitesimal fraction of demand, its intermittency imposes costs beyond the average cost of delivered wind power. Due to residual CO2 emissions, compressed air storage is surprisingly uncompetitive, and there is a tradeoff between the use of wind site diversity and storage as means of managing intermittency.

U.S. Department of Energy: Wind & Hydropower Technologies Program

Wind Energy
To help meet America’s increasing energy needs while protecting our Nation’s energy security and environment, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is working with wind industry partners to develop clean, domestic, innovative wind energy technologies that can compete with conventional fuel sources. DOE’s Wind Energy Program efforts have culminated in some of industry’s leading products today and have contributed to record-breaking industry growth.

20% Wind Energy by 2030 (pdf)

The U.S. Department of Energy conducts research on a wide range of advanced waterpower technologies. As part of its commitment to develop clean, domestic energy sources, DOE is collaborating with industry, regulators and other stakeholders to investigate emerging water power technologies and to further improve conventional hydropower systems.

U.S. Department of Energy: Wind Energy Myths (pdf)

  • Wind energy is more expensive than conventional energy.
  • Wind energy requires a production tax credit (PTC) to achieve these economics.
  • The production tax credit and accelerated depreciation are helpful only to big, out-of-state developers. The economic benefits aren’t local, and rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities can’t receive the same benefits.
  • Wind energy is unpredictable and must be “backed up” by conventional generation.
  • If wind energy displaces energy from existing coal plants, then rates will go up.
  • New natural gas power plants provide cheaper energy than wind plants.
  • Large, utility-grade wind turbines can’t be installed on the distribution grid without expensive upgrades and power-quality issues.
  • Small projects that might be suitable for co-ops or small municipal utilities are not economical.
  • Wind turbines kill birds and thus have serious environmental impacts.
  • Wind turbines are noisy.

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