How is Hawaii doing? Winds generate almost 7% of electricity consumed, higher than the world average. However, there has been a pervading community backlash, and several major wind farm projects were cancelled. There is no ongoing major windpower construction activity today. Future developers need to re-gain the confidence of the local people. What went wrong? Same as geothermal energy. Not in my backyard has become the standard attitude. How can you get otherwise sensible citizens to recognize the value of cheaper and cleaner sustainable options, rather than more fossil fuel electricity? You can almost predict major anguish from whale lovers if any floating wind farm is ever attempted in Hawaii.
- more than a million jobs
- 104,934 wind turbines
- 539,291 MW (about the equivalent of 500 nuclear powerplants)
- 42.8%: China's share of global wind installations
- more than 3.7%: percentage of global electricity generated (that figure was for 2015)
- $10,000: amount a farmer in Iowa can earn from 1/10 hectare (2.5 acres), versus $300 to grow corn for ethanol--and there is no reason why they can't do both
- 29 countries have at least 1000 MW of installed wind power
- Vestas, from Denmark, currently manufactures the largest wind turbine at 8 MW with a rotor diameter of 538 feet (that's almost the length of a football field).
- GE has been struggling, but recently announced that they would be making a $400 million investment in offshore wind, specifically to build a 12 MW turbine. That's their 12 MW wind machine below:
- GE's current biggest is at 6 MW. Did you know that this American company invented wind energy?
- Vestas is about to test a 9.5 MW machine at Clemson University.
- Siemens Gamesa just awarded a contract to supply its 8 MW turbine to the Hornsea Wind Farm, set to be operational in 2020.
Geothermal energy is especially valuable because it is baseload. The sun and winds come and go. Doubly comforting to know that my energy responsibility before windpower was the Hawaii Geothermal Project (above photo) in the early 1970's, where I was the reservoir engineer. Yes, there also is no relationship between this field and biochemical engineering, but that, too, has been the story of my life. This is about the only sustainable energy project I participated in where success was found on our first attempt. Puna Geothermal Venture now produces 38 MW and has permits to expand to 60 MW.
first floating (moored) wind farm is now producing 30 MW off the coast of Scotland, so the early effort has begun.