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2014 Is Looking To Be A 7,000 Megawatt Year For Wind Power Capacity And Innovation

By Jeff Spross

"2014 Is Looking To Be A 7,000 Megawatt Year For Wind Power Capacity And Innovation"

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GE's new Brilliant 2.5 megawatt turbine. (Credit: GE)

According to Bloomberg, Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. is gearing up to drop $1.9 billion on new wind farms in Iowa. The investment might build as many as 656 new turbines by 2015, which would add as much as 1,050 megawatts of wind power capacity to the 2,285 megawatts the company already operates in the state.

The project could also herald a revival in American wind power in general. The anticipated expiration of the production tax credit for wind energy drove a spike in installations in 2012, then a lull into 2013, and finally an anticipated ramp up now that the credit was extended for another year by the fiscal cliff deal.

And because the new extension merely requires projects to start construction by the end of the year to qualify — projects previously had to actually come online by the end of the year to benefit from the credit — GE now expects the full force of the revival to hit in 2014:

Wind-farm developers including NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE) and Invenergy LLC may install 3,000 megawatts to 4,000 megawatts of turbines in the U.S. this year and as much as 7,000 megawatts next year, Anne McEntee, GE’s vice president of renewable energy, said today in an interview.

The U.S. added a record 13,124 megawatts of turbines last year, outpacing natural gas installations for the first time, as wind developers raced to complete projects ahead of the Dec. 31 expiration of the production tax credit. Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) andSpain’s Gamesa Corp Tecnologica SA (GAM) also expect new orders to pick up by the third quarter.…

GE has received orders this year for more than 1,000 megawatts of wind turbines, including one from NextEra for 100.3 megawatts announced today for a Michigan wind farm and Invenergy’s 215-megawatt deal announced last week for a project in Texas.

Also coming down the pike for wind power is the new version of GE’s Brilliant — a 2.5 megawatt wind turbine, featuring new smart systems and accompanying storage capacity. With both its own sensors and access to the internet, the Brilliant can take in weather forecast data, grid system information, and supply and demand patterns, and use all that top adjust everything from electronics operations to its blade positions. Combined with a new height and an increase of rotor length to 120 meters, these changes boost the new Brilliant’s efficiency by 25 percent over the last model.

The batteries will boast 50 kilowatt-hours of storage a pop, and be hooked up to the turbines from a nearby ground pad. The batteries will store up excess power generated when the wind is blowing the strongest and the turbines are operating at peak capacity, then distribute the power during off hours. This smooths out the power supply from the wind farms, thus avoiding a lot of the disruptions and reliability issues that came along with the fact that the wind does not always cooperate with the needs of us humans.

All told, this would continue the roll wind power has already been on in the United States: 2012 saw the installation of wind capacity outpace all other forms of energy production, and the U.S. and China led the boom in global installations that same year.

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13 Responses to 2014 Is Looking To Be A 7,000 Megawatt Year For Wind Power Capacity And Innovation

  1. James Richard Tyrer says:

    50 kilowatt-hours of storage for a 2.5 megawatt wind turbine doesn’t really make much difference, does it? That would be 1.2 minutes of full capacity. Certainly not enough to do what you say it would. It is really only enough storage to provide a steady output level with slightly varying wind speed.

    • Brooks Bridges says:

      I was curious about that too. But suspect for one thing, 2.5 megawatts is the maximum output and average, expected, whatever, would be significantly lower. Also, they said batteries would “smooth out” the power supply. This might mean that it’s for conditions when wind is unsteady even though on the average, sufficient to generate significant power. So time periods when batteries kick in might be quite short but sufficient to keep backup fossil fuel generation from being powered up – or give it time to power up.

  2. Superman1 says:

    There is the world of new supply for non-fossil, and the world of existing demand for fossil. We hear these glowing stories about the former, while it is the continuing demand (existing and projected) for the latter that will drive us to extinction before the end of the century!

    • SecularAnimist says:

      What utter incoherent nonsense.

      With regard to electricity generation, there is no “demand for fossil”. There is demand for electricity. That demand doesn’t care how the electricity is generated.

      Renewables already dominate new electricity generation capacity, and indeed in recent months renewable energy has provided ALL new generation capacity added to the US grid.

      Obviously — well, obviously to anyone but those whose agenda is to demoralize with defeatism — this is a HUGE step in the right direction of providing enough carbon-free renewable generating capacity that we can not only stop building new fossil-fueled generation, but begin shutting down existing fossil-fueled generation, starting with coal-fired generation, which is not only the worst GHG emitter but emits massive amounts of toxic pollution as well, and of course is responsible for even more toxic air and water pollution from the mining, processing and transport of coal.

      In ANY plan to eliminate GHG emissions, replacing coal-fired electricity generation with renewables as rapidly as possible MUST be an urgent priority, and the skyrocketing growth of wind and solar power shows that it CAN be done — we CAN eliminate virtually ALL carbon emissions from electricity generation in 10 years, with enormous “side benefits” to consumers (e.g. lower cost of electricity) and the economy in general.

      Which, of course, is exactly why the defeatists — the new deniers — are standing on the sidelines shrieking “NO! NO! YOU CAN’T DO IT! IT WON’T WORK! IT’S HOPELESS! DESPAIR! GIVE UP!”

    • Brooks Bridges says:

      Same old, same old

    • David Goldstein says:

      ahem…if I may be….by now I think we can safely call it a ‘tradition’ at Climate Progress that Superman comments to the effect the replacing fossil fuels with ‘alternative’ energies is a misleading and even dangerous pipe-dream. Then some respond that he is full of soup and that of course we can do it given the political and economic will. My strong guess is that it is not an ‘either/or’ situation. I feel that Supe’s points that outrageous and excessive consumption habits (energy and otherwise) of the ‘developed’ (and soon to be ‘developing’ as well) world are simply not sustainable in the long run and that, furthermore, we all bear personal responsibility and that, in general, the public is numbed, spoiled and unwilling to ‘sacrifice’ in the name of a sustainable world…are EXTREMELY well taken points. AND…it is also true that, no matter to what degree we are (eventually) able to simplify and streamline are energy needs and wants, it IS extraordinarily important to ramp up solar, wind, geothermal despite the additional materials and carbon output that will entail and we have the technology to do so right now. Did I miss anything?

      • Brooks Bridges says:

        I’ve never argued S1′s basic premise that we have to use less and are too stupid to do it because it’s blindingly obvious.

        But please, “Collapse” by Jared Diamond, “A Short History of Progress” by Ronald Wright (superb, BTW), and many others show humans have been doing this kind of thing since before recorded history. We are Homo Parasitus Stupido – parasites who kill their host. We have always, if there is sufficient food, multiplied until we destroy the sources of our food and energy supplies by over consumption, had a population crash, then moved on (spatially or technologically).

        The only difference is now it’s the entire earth and technology may be insufficient.

        So continually “pointing out” that it’s the fault of the avg Joe and Joan for not being more aware is pointless, boring, and annoying.

        The NEED is for ways we can work around fundamental human stupidity – and I include myself in that category FWIW.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

        You square the circle only by destroying the destructive system, capitalism, and replacing it with a world-system based on equity, fairness, justice, and a redistribution of wealth to ensure a decent sufficiency for all. Excessive and pointless consumption must be ended, and the pursuit of profit simply to sate the insatiable avarice of a tiny minority must be suppressed. Otherwise the greed of a few will condemn all.

        • David Goldstein says:

          yep, I hear you and if this is indeed the case then barring a truly high level miracle we are f***ed.

  3. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    There are many ways of storing energy and of managing energy demand. There are multiple forms of renewable energy.

    These are necessary steps, not the whole answer, but still good news.

  4. SecularAnimist says:

    David Goldstein wrote: “replacing fossil fuels with ‘alternative’ energies is a misleading and even dangerous pipe-dream”

    I have no idea what you are talking about — or what Superman1 is talking about every time he mechanically regurgitates that inane, substance-free bumper-sticker slogan.

    What exactly do you propose as an alternative to “replacing fossil fuels with ‘alternative’ energies”?

    Are you proposing that we eliminate all use of electricity? Talk about a dangerous pipe-dream.

    According to the EIA, electricity generation accounted for 40 percent of the USA’s “energy related” CO2 emissions, and according to the EPA accounted for 33 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions in 2011.

    Multiple, detailed, specific plans (some of them peer-reviewed) have been put forward for replacing ALL of that fossil-fueled generation with zero-emission renewable energy within as little as 10 years, thereby eliminating as much as one third of ALL the USA’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    And the skyrocketing growth of both solar and wind energy show that this can, in fact, be accomplished — while simultaneously lowering the cost of electricity for most consumers and boosting the overall economy.

    Do you think that’s not worth doing? Do you think that it’s a BAD thing to do? What exactly do you find “misleading and dangerous” about it?