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A Step in a Positive Direction: Wind Power Represented 40% of All New U.S. Electricitiy Generation for 2009

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

The Department of Energy came out with facts on the achievements of wind power generation in 2009. A blog focusing on offshore wind news captured the important aspects. Some things don’t need paraphrasing:

“In 2009, the U.S. wind power industry installed 10,010 MW of generating capacity, increasing the country’s installed wind farm capacity by 39%; wind power represented 40% of all new U.S. electric generation capacity for the year. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the wind turbines added in 2009 generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 2.4 million homes—the generation capacity of three large nuclear power plants.

The entire wind turbine fleet’s generation capacity—more than 35,000 MW—is enough to power nearly 10 million homes. Each year, this wind power capacity will avoid an estimated 62 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road, and will conserve about 20 billion gallons of water that would otherwise be withdrawn for steam or cooling in conventional power plants.

Wind power now contributes nearly 2% of the total U.S. electricity supply, and wind contributes up to 14% of some individual states’ electrical generation. Renewable energy standards are credited with the rapid growth of wind power in Texas, including the world’s largest land-based wind farm, which was constructed in just over two years. The Roscoe Wind Farm’s 627 wind turbines, totaling 781.5 MW, can generate electricity for more than 230,000 U.S. homes.

The small wind market increased by 20 MW in 2009, a 15% increase over 2008, bringing the total capacity for this sector to more than 100 MW. AWEA estimates that 10,000 wind turbines with rated capacities of 100 kW or less were installed in 2009. More than 2,700 MW of utility-scale wind farm projects were under construction at the close of 2009. Nearly 270,000 MW of wind farm projects were in line for interconnection agreements, an early stage of project development.”

 

Maine is not one of the top ten states labeled as a leader for wind generation. However, the rank was based on currently generated amounts, which had states dominating in onshore wind development. Given the newly established regional task force for offshore wind development, it is not unlikely that in the near future, a new list of leaders for offshore wind will develop with Maine at the forefront.

 

To Read more click here.

To read the DOE Fact Sheet on it, click here.

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Offshore Wind Costs Greatly Depend on Developer Financing Terms

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Going back to the September report by NREL mentioned in an October blog entry, the assessment published titled “Large-Scale Offshore Wind Power in the Untied States: assessment of opportunities and barriers” explains that LCOE estimates for offshore wind are highly sensitive to project specific economic factors. This is due to offshore wind energy’s infancy in development, as well as the diverse scenarios offshore wind could be deployed in. The key variables in any cost model for offshore wind are capital costs, discount rates and wind speeds which can greatly vary the final LCOE estimate. The table below shows two different scenarios with differing capital cost and discount rate parameters chosen as the base assumptions and the effect wind speed has on LCOE estimates given those base assumptions.

 

LCOE Sensitivity with Respect to Capital Cost, Discount Rate, and Wind Speed

 

 

A reduction in the cost of capital from 16% to 7% for a project with a capital cost of $4,259/kW and wind speed of 9 m/s will reduce LCOE from $0.23/kWh to $0.16/kWh ($0.07/kWh). For a project with the same characteristics but a 25% lower capital cost, LCOE is reduced from $0.23/kWh to $0.18/kWh ($0.05/kWh).

 

The findings suggest that although higher capital costs are expected to continue in the near future, financing terms greatly influence offshore wind energy production costs for developers.

 

Report on Feasibility of Atlantic States Offshore Wind Energy Puts Maine in the Limelight

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

A study by the National Wildlife Federation and dozens of other organizations was just released explaining the potential for offshore wind power along the Atlantic coast. The report concluded findings of Atlantic states wind development potential from Florida to Maine.

According to the report Maine remains a leader in the effort to pursue offshore wind power. State of Maine estimates which are backed up by NREL claim 150GW of generation capacity is possible within 50 nautical miles of the state’s coastline. The $20 billion expenditure necessary to develop 5 GW of deep-water wind off of Maine’s coast would generate about 16,700 new or retained jobs per year for 20 years.



Other Factors Helping Advance Offshore Wind for Maine:

– Legislation has been put into effect that sets a target of producing 5GW of electricity from offshore wind turbines by 2030.

– The Governor’s Ocean Energy Task Force is implemented into state law in addition to the creation of the joint state-federal task force implemented by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) as discussed in a previous blog entry.

– Creation of the Maine Wind Industry; a collaboration of businesses, academic institutions, and other non-profit institutions focused on developing the supply chain for all aspects of wind resource development in the state.

– Maine is already a leader in onshore wind development: 266 MW currently operating or being built with a goal of 2000 MW by 2015.

– A competitive bidding process began in September, 2010 with Maine Public Utilities Commission issuing Requests for Proposals for long-term contacting for deepwater offshore wind projects up to 25 MW or tidal energy up to 5MW. Requests for proposals are due May, 2011.

Overall there are many initiatives at the business, academic, state and federal level that is helping mobilize offshore wind energy in Maine as well as along the Atlantic Coast. You can find the full report just released on December 1st, here:

NWF-Offshore Wind in the Atlantic-Dec 2010