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Another Very Strong Year for U.S. Wind

Green Lifestyle  (tags: eco-friendly, energy, environment, green, Sustainabililty, sustainable, technology, wind, wind energy, wind power )

- 1890 days ago -
Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) have issued their latest authoritative report on the status of U.S. wind energy.


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Michael O (176)
Monday August 12, 2013, 8:07 pm
By Bill Sweet

Newly installed turbine capacity increased a whopping 90 percent in 2012, driven in large part by subsidies that were expected to expire (but did not); total wind capacity climbed to 60 gigawatts, the equivalent in terms of expected energy production of roughly a quarter of installed nuclear power.

Despite plummeting natural gas prices and wide switching from coal to gas generation, the expansion of wind outstripped gas last year in terms of capacity, though not in terms of expected energy production. The United States narrowly edged out China as world leader in wind capacity additions and left Germany, a one-time world market leader, in the dust.

When wind is considered as a percentage of total electricity consumption, the United States still ranks only twelfth, with Denmark in first place, Germany in fifth, and the UK in eighth. But the scope for potential U.S. expansion is considerable. The United States still has no offshore wind turbines installed, an area where Denmark, Germany, and the UK have led the way.

Many findings in the LBL report indicate a mature technology capable of standing on its own two feet, with predicable costs and returns. Capacity factors—the proportion of time units are generating at rated capacity—have been steady since the beginning of the century at about 30 percent; that is the most important single measure of performance and reliability. Turbine costs came down from about $1.80/watt in the late 1990s to $0.80/W in 2001-02, climbed back up to about $1.60/W a few years later, and now seem to be settling in the vicinity of $1/W. Total project costs, after dropping from more than $3/W in the 1980s to about $1.25 in 2004-05, seen to be stabilizing near $2/W.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, the report found that the biggest economies of scale are registered not for example by very large farms with medium-scale turbines but by small clusters of very large turbines.

Looking both back and ahead, perhaps the most important aspect of wind's impressive performance has been the standard it is setting for solar energy, which also is intermittent and therefore has similar expected capacity factors. At current solar prices, which obviously are artificially low, photovoltaic arrays are being installed at costs similar to wind's—$1/W or less per panel, $2/W or less per project. Only time will tell whether in fact solar also is crossing the boundary to market competitiveness. As of today, according to the environmental reporter for London's Financial Times, PV arrays installed without subsidies account for only a tenth of one percent of total world installations.

Looking to the present and immediate future, the LBL experts expect this year to be somewhat slow for wind, as the project pipeline is rebuilt, but for solid growth to resume in 2014.

Sue H (7)
Monday August 12, 2013, 8:51 pm
Progress is a good thing.

Sheila D (194)
Monday August 12, 2013, 9:20 pm
How far have they gotten solving the bat and bird deaths??
Read and noted. Thank you.

Sue Matheson (79)
Monday August 12, 2013, 9:46 pm

David C (25)
Tuesday August 13, 2013, 11:21 am
> Progress is a good thing.
Progress would be a good thing.
Cutting burning of fossils by at least 80, better 90+% by 2020 (better:2015) .. that i would consider progress. And all nukes shut down, of course.
Installing some so-called "alternative" energy production facilities while (increasing) frakking and keystoning and drilling deep-sea and (ant)arctic ... that i call escalation of fatal in$anity

David C (25)
Tuesday August 13, 2013, 11:54 am
> total wind capacity climbed to 60 GWp, the equivalent in terms of expected energy production of roughly a quarter of installed nuclear power
interesting. Let's see how this check out / compares.

(as i recently learned+archived:) In .at (according to producer- and wind-lobby data) wind 'farms' produce on average about 22% of peak ((PV: about 11% o.p.) ((to see how totally UNsustainable this technology is (birds aside) look up how big/heavy generators are, for how 'long' they (are guaranteed) to work))

U.S.nuclear installed = ? >> ~ 770 TWh/y from US nukes (in 2012) =~ 88 GW avg. (production! not installed capacity)
1/4 of which would --iianm-- require ~36 % of 60 GW ... so maybe it's a bit more windy in USA, or the number given is slightly more 'optimistic' than those of Austrian wind-generator-producers (even if we assume US nukes running at 100%)


David C (25)
Tuesday August 13, 2013, 12:00 pm
the (xls) "data file" from the "2012 Wind Technologies Market Report" a LOT of (irrelevant) data
i could, however, not find data on electricity-produced; ONLY on capacities
" The [compulsory] evasion of the essential is THE problem of mankind. "
-- Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), "The Murder of Christ" (1951), Ch.1

David C (25)
Tuesday August 13, 2013, 12:07 pm
... ok, capacity factors (200-2012) ARE discussed in the (pdf) report, chapter 5. And claimed to be 30-33 %,
also due to "newer and LARGER turbines" (my caps)

Raleigh G (51)
Wednesday August 14, 2013, 12:46 pm
Better than fracked gas, better than coal, let's see more counties and states employ wind farms. But birds are in damger with them, and we must figure this one out, too. thank you for your post.

Andre Yokers (6)
Wednesday August 14, 2013, 1:52 pm
Good news!

Terry V (30)
Wednesday August 14, 2013, 5:45 pm

Robert O (12)
Wednesday August 14, 2013, 6:15 pm
Great to hear. Thanks Michael.

greenplanet e (155)
Wednesday August 14, 2013, 11:45 pm
Good to have more wind power.

Monica D (580)
Thursday August 15, 2013, 12:09 am
Good to know about the good progress in 2012.

Ben O (140)
Thursday August 15, 2013, 4:43 am
Right on...Let the 4 winds blow!
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