Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Update on Wind Turbine Technology from Popular Science

Popular Science recently published a short article on wind turbine technology. The article offers a couple of quick thoughts on the future of wind energy. With respect to offshore wind farms, the article notes that:
there’s no limit to what could be set up once developers devise a stable, economical deep-water platform—possibly tethered to the ocean bottom—that could be placed far out at sea, where the neighbors won’t complain and an estimated 900 gigawatts’ worth of air power begs to be harvested. Robert Thresher, director of the Department of Energy’s National Wind Technology Center, thinks a workable system is less than a decade away. Transferring energy to shore could be costly, but “the technology’s doable,” he says.
With respect to land-based wind energy projects, the article points out that:
the real limit to wind power expansion isn’t the turbine output; it’s the proximity to the power grid, experts say. Countless remote locations that possess good wind lie far off the grid, leaving wind farm developers, governments and utility companies to squabble over who will pick up the tab to string a high-voltage connection to civilization. “If the first 50-megawatt wind farm to go into Nebraska has to pay for the cost of the transmission line to Chicago, then it’s not going to get built,” Tom Gray [deputy executive director of the American Wind Energy Association]
This point on the cost of transmission echoes the comments made yesterday by Dave Leflar, who raises some interesting questions on the most appropriate mechanism for subsidizing development of wind resources in remote locations.

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