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Friday, August 5, 2011

WHAT IS THE STATE OF WIND ENERGY TODAY?



No, windmills look a lot different today.  That is a Vestas to the right.  A recent article from Renewable Energy World,

World Wind Market: Record Installations, But Growth Rates Still Falling

has a confusing title, but the bottom line is that wind machines are continuing to be installed around the world.  In 2010 almost 40,000 MW of new wind energy conversion systems (WECS) became operational, an equivalent of 47 nuclear power plants (850 MW/reactor).  The world total now is at around 200,000 MW of WECS, or said to be  the equivalent of 235 nuclear facilities.  

However, keep in mind that the average power capacity factor is 30% plus or minus 10% for wind and 80% plus or minus 10% (the U.S. is at 91%...Japan, much lower--Fukushima at the beginning of the tsunami (left) and during (bottom) on 11March2011--from Tokyo Electric Power Company/Reuters) for nuclear.

 The capacity factor for coal is similar to nuclear.  For you solar fans, the capacity factor for photovoltaics ranges from 12% in Massachusetts to 19% in Arizona.  The capacity factor is the actual production divided by the rated capacity.  This is what makes geothermal, and, someday, OTEC, attractive, because they are baseload options, and should have capacity factors approaching nuclear/coal facilities.

There are 442 nuclear power plants in 30 countries having a net electricity capacity of 375,000 MW, with 63,000 MW in 16 countries under construction.  However, almost half the new nuclear construction projects are in China, which has murmured the possibility of reviewing this option.  Germany will shut down all its nuclear plants by 2022 and Japan is in a real dilemma.

Back to wind, the six top suppliers (MW in 2010) are:

1.  Vestas Wind Systems (5842 MW):  Denmark
     (photo of one of their offshore WECS above)
2.  Sinovel (4386 MW):  China
3.  GE Energy (3796 MW):  USA--#2 in 2009
4.  Goldwind (3740 MW):  China
5.  Enercon (2846 MW):  Germany
6.  Suzlon (2736 MW):  India

Four of the top ten companies are from China.  However, the largest two windfarms in the world are in Texas, with no blue areas (see map below).  To the right is the Roscoe Wind Farm (782 MW). #2 is the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, both in the middle of the state.

Where are the winds in the USA?
(Click on map to see details.)  Notice that the ocean space between Maui and the Big Island is the best in Hawaii.  Plus, these winds tend to be laminar, as opposed to the turbulence faced by land-based operations.  I've long felt that large floating  (too deep for mooring) structures in gyre-like movement and some means to transfer this energy to shore (microwave? hydrogen?) had promise for Hawaii.

In Hawaii, wind power is seemingly as popular as nuclear, for NIMBY proclivities could well yet prevail.  A third of a century ago, when the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute was a pioneer in this field, the Audubon Society (fear of killing birds) and resort companies (worried that their image of R&D would be tarnished with the presence of these devices a mile away) testified in the negative at public hearings.  Geothermal (which also thirty years ago was largely stopped by environmentalists, marijuana growers, Hawaiian religion activists, lower lifestyle immigrants and the like) is appearing to make a comeback and, as my postings of the past week has indicated, OTEC, could well finally now show some movement.

See (click on it):

  -  Hawaii wind maps (even for Maui County, the best wind regime is between Molokai and Lanai)
  - wind speed at elevation (100 MPH at 8 miles up, so, capture the jet stream)--the Flying Electric Generator:

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What a day on Wall Street, as the Dow Jones Industrials dropped 245 at one point, and ended up plus 61 at 11,445.  World markets were mostly down, with Hong Kong and Japan dropping around 4%.  Gold jumped $17/toz to $1662.  Gold touched $1685/toz over the past 24 hours, an all-time high.  Oil is at $87/barrel (NYMEX) and $109/barrel (Brent Spot).

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Typhoon Muifa, now at 90 MPH, will increased to a Category 2, but will miss Zhoushan (big waves, though, and some rain) and skirt by Shanghai Saturday night.
Muifa did claim a few lives in the Philippines, but Okinawa is well prepared for these storms. 

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