Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, writes the Texas heat/drought/power crisis revealed several lessons: wind power enhances a grid’s reliability, conventional power plants can’t operate all the time, wind farms that are dispersed are more dependable, and output from offshore and coastal wind farms can meet peak demand during summer:

It’s over, for the moment: ERCOT, the company that manages the Texas utility system, said Monday that it doesn’t expect peak electricity demand this week to surpass last week’s record levels.
As he did after a sudden freeze stressed the Texas system in FebruaryERCOT CEO Trip Doggett credited wind power with a critical contribution during last week’s power emergency. Doggett said electricity from wind farms recently installed along Texas’s Gulf Coast began flowing at just the right time to help meet peak demand in the late afternoons.

With that in mind, some lessons from the week’s real-world experience with substantial amounts of installed wind generating capacity on a large utility system:

Adding wind power makes a utility system more reliable, not less.

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When the Earthquake/tsunami closed down all of Japan’s nuclear power plants, I reported that wind was one of the only remaining reliable, tsunami proof sources of power.

Now, Dallas Morning News quotes ERCOT, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s electrical systems:

The Texas electrical grid operator began emergency procedures to prevent total blackout on Tuesday as the heat lead to record electricity demand, and told customers to brace for a repeat in the next few days.

The high temperatures also caused about 20 power plants to stop working, including at least one coal-fired plant and natural gas plants.

..such outages aren’t unusual in the hot summer, and Texas is getting some juice from surrounding states and from Mexico.

According to an ERCOT spokesman, conventional power plants suffer in this kind of heat.

“They can’t really efficiently condense the steam that’s used to make electricity, so that causes unit deratings that they can’t generate as much as they could if the lake were cooler.”

The American Wind Energy Association notes: 

Meanwhile, some 1,800 MW of wind generation were available yesterday, more than double the 800 MW that ERCOT counts on during periods of peak summer demand for its long-term planning purposes. 1,800 MW is enough to power about 360,000 homes under the very high electricity demand seen yesterday.

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This rural school district is an energy producer, and earns $120,000. annually doing it.
What would the impact be,  if this were applied to rural schools and small communities across the country?

This is another example of how renewable energy systems, and distributed, smart grid solutions, can empower small communities, small businesses, and even individuals – see below–

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Thufferin' thuckatath...

From the New York Times:

While public attention has focused on wind turbines as a menace to birds, a new study shows that a far greater threat may be posed by a more familiar antagonist: the pet house cat.

new study in The Journal of Ornithology on the mortality of baby gray catbirds in the Washington suburbs found that cats were the No. 1 killer in the area, by a large margin.

Nearly 80 percent of the birds were killed by predators, and cats were responsible for 47 percent of those deaths, according to the researchers, from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University in Maryland. Death rates were particularly high in neighborhoods with large cat populations.

This is, of course, more confirmation of what my own research for a pair of wind energy videos showed.
(I’ve embedded them below the fold)

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Click for Larger Image

How much is there? More than we thought.

According to Dennis Elliott, NREL’s (National Renewable Energy Laboratory) principal scientist in wind resource assessment, “areas with gross capacity factor of 30% and greater are generally considered to have suitable wind resource for wind development with today’s advanced wind turbine technology. The new estimates for 80-m height and capacity factor of 30% and greater indicate about 10,500 gigawatts (GW) developable potential in the contiguous United States, compared to previous estimates of 7,000 to 8,000 GW for 50-m height and power Class 3 and greater.”

How much is that?

Well, a very large nuclear reactor might put out one gigawatt.

I couldn’t fit nearly enough into my first wind video, and many of the unused clips address questions that viewers have since asked.

Script: Read the rest of this entry »

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