- There has been a boom in wind energy activity to get under the wire before the Production Tax Credit (PTC) expires. A healthy 4,500 megawatts of new wind capacity were added just in the first three quarters of this year, bringing our total up to more than 50 GW (1 GW = 1000 MW), the equivalent of 50 nuclear powerplants (again, though, nuclear and geothermal have a load--or power or capacity-- factor of 90%, while that of wind energy is, optimistically between 20 and 40%, while that of solar photovoltaics is 10-20%). There will be a wind growth factor of 16% this year. Coal capacity is today at 339,000 MW, but 27,000 MW will be retired by 2016. Just wait until the carbon tax is enacted, and this drop might well become a cliff.
That Airbus 380 just happens to be the largest airplane today, capable of carrying from 450 to 800 passengers. I have a flight scheduled on it in April from Bangkok to Narita.
Around the world, Europe is up to 100,000 MW: Germany 30,000 MW, Spain at 22,000 MW, Italy 7,200 MW, France 7,180 MW, UK 6,480 MW and Portugal 4,900 GW. As a means of comparison, Hawaiian Electric Company averages around 1000 MW (on Oahu). Offshore installations are picking up, as the London Array Offshore Wind Farm has now installed 630 MW. These European wind energy farms produce as much electricity as 62 coal power plants, 39 nuclear PP or 52 natural gas PP.
So how goes Hawaii? Well, we just about killed the combined 400 MW wind farms on Lanai and Molokai. The local people are opposed, plus that undersea cable will cost a billion or two. A 69 MW field has just begun producing electricity on the North Shore five miles from Haleiwa and the farm at Kaheawa on Maui got up to 51 MW this year: