ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: AWEA.ORG
The production of clean wind energy reduces the consumption of water, which is heavily relied on to cool thermal power plants. It also avoids significant carbon dioxide emissions annually by displacing generation from fossil fuel power plants.
Water Use in the Power Sector
The power sector withdraws more water than any other sector in the United States, including the agricultural sector. By displacing electricity generation from other sources, wind energy avoids water withdrawals and consumption, preserving the water for other uses.
- For thermal power plant cooling (coal, natural gas, nuclear), water is withdrawn to circulate for cooling, therefore is removed from the ground or diverted from a surface source for use. A fraction of the water withdrawn is actually consumed (or not returned to the source) because it evaporates or transpires.
Even through the fraction of water consumption is small compared with water withdrawals in the power sector, water consumption for power generation still totals an estimated 1 to 2 trillion gallons of water each year (~11 trillion bottles of water). Withdraws of water for power sector cooling total an estimated 22 to 62 trillion gallons annually.
Water Conserved by Wind Energy
The 191 million megawatt-hours (MWh) generated by wind energy during 2015 helped avoid the consumption of roughly 73 billion gallons of water, the equivalent of 226 gallons per person, or 553 billion bottles of water.
During 2014 in California, wind energy saved 2.5 billion gallons of water by displacing water consumption at the state’s thirsty fossil-fired power plants, playing a valuable role in alleviating the state’s record drought. Wind energy’s annual water savings work out to around 65 gallons per person in the state (200 gallons per household), or the equivalent of 20 billion bottles of water.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: INDEPENDENT.CO.UK
WRITTEN BY: SCOTT DISAVINO
Wind briefly powered more than 50 percent of electric demand on Sunday, the 14-state Southwest Power Pool (SPP) said, for the first time on any North American power grid.
SPP coordinates the flow of electricity on the high voltage power lines from Montana and North Dakota to New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana.
Wind power in the SPP region has grown significantly to over 16,000 MW currently from less than 400 megawatts in the early 2000s and is expected to continue growing. One megawatt can power about 1,000 homes.
“Ten years ago, we thought hitting even a 25 percent wind-penetration level would be extremely challenging, and any more than that would pose serious threats to reliability,” SPP Vice President of Operations Bruce Rew said in a statement.
“Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50 percent wind penetration. It’s not even our ceiling.”
Wind power briefly reached 52.1 percent at 4:30 a.m. local time on Sunday, SPP said on Monday, beating the previous penetration milestone of 49.2 percent. Wind penetration is a measure of the amount of total load served by wind at a given time.
Currently, wind is the third biggest source of generation in the SPP region, making up about 15 percent of capacity in 2016 behind natural gas and coal. This is the first time that wind was even briefly more than 50 percent of the source of electric power at any US grid, according to SPP.
“With a (generation) footprint as broad as ours, even if the wind stops blowing in the upper Great Plains, we can deploy resources waiting in the Midwest and Southwest to make up any sudden deficits,” Rew said.
Of the 11 states that received more than 10 percent of their power from wind in 2015, the top five are Iowa at 31 percent, South Dakota at 25 percent, Kansas at 24 percent, Oklahoma at 18 percent and North Dakota at 18 percent, all at least partially located in the SPP grid, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Some of the biggest wind farms in the grid are operated by units of Sempra Energy, BP Plc, EDP Energias de Portugal SA, Southern Co and NextEra Energy Inc.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: MANUFACTURING.NET
As we deepen our understanding of alternative renewable energy sources, researchers and engineers are finding more innovative ways to improve their current models and methods. Wind turbines were one of the first,and remain among the leading generators of clean renewable energy, with over 225,000 up and running throughout the world.
Conventional bladed wind turbines come with their share of shortcomings, however, like their top-heavy design, cumbersome manufacturing and maintenance processes, along with the amount of space a single turbine requires to efficiently harvest the right amount of wind energy.
Recently coming onto the scene is a new kind of bladeless wind turbine that harnesses wind energy through a process called vorticity — a spinning motion of air or fluids. Composed of fiberglass and carbon fiber, bladeless wind turbines are cylindrical structures that offer a less-convoluted and intrusive method of collecting renewable energy. Wind passes through these turbines and shears off the downward side of the cylindrical structure in a spinning vortex, which causes the structure to vibrate. The kinetic energy of the oscillating cylinder is converted into electricity, using a linear generator that’s similar to the model used to harness wave energy.
Not only are the bladeless turbines made with less parts, but these cylindrical oscillators generate electricity at 40 percent less the cost of power than their bladed counterparts. Bladeless turbines cost significantly less to manufacture and maintain (up to 80 percent), which has led to a steady increase in their demand. These cylindrical oscillators are said to be quiet, and aren’t a threat to birds and other avian species, whereas bladed turbines are responsible for more than 368,000 bird deaths each year.
But, because of how new these bladeless wind turbines are, they come with their set of design and functional flaws.
An individual oscillating cylinder can’t convert or capture as much wind energy as a conventional wind turbine. Bladed windmills convert 80-90 percent of kinetic energy into electricity, whereas the bladeless turbines can only convert no more than 70 percent. Bladeless turbines also sweep a smaller area than conventional turbines. To offset these flaws, more bladeless turbines can be installed in a single area, while the minute costs of manufacturing and maintaining bladeless turbines will offset the disparity in energy they harvest compared to bladed windmills.
The effects of airflow from the oscillation that occurs in bladeless turbines have also raised concerns on the rate of energy these structures can capture. Air moving at slow speeds past small-diameter cylinders flow in smooth constant motions. If that diameter is increased, the speed of flowing air becomes turbulent, which produces eddies. The turbulence in flow causes the oscillation frequency of the turbines to fluctuate, which can turn optimal energy production into a tedious ordeal.
There are also a lot of people that dispute how quiet these turbines will truly be, citing the amount of vibrations they produce as cause for concern. Skeptics believe the oscillating frequencies that cause the turbines to vibrate will produce a substantial amount of noise, which has been compared to sounding like “a freight train coming through your wind farm.”
While the early stages of bladeless wind turbine development have shown encouraging signs and results, it’s clear that they come with their set of design and capability flaws that researchers and engineers are working toward improving. Nonetheless, the development of a bladeless oscillating turbine is a step in the right direction toward optimizing and perfecting means of alternative renewable energy.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON AWEABLOG.ORG
WRITTEN BY: JOHN HENSLEY
As the largest renewable resource in the U.S. grows, so will wind-related job opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Americans.
That was the news released yesterday as AWEA joined Navigant Consulting to release new analysis showing the U.S. wind industry will drive over $85 billion in economic activity over the next four years while wind-related employment will grow to reach 248,000 jobs in all 50 states. By 2020 Navigant expects 33,000 Americans to be working in wind manufacturing facilities, 114,000 Americans to be building, operating and maintaining wind turbines, and an additional 102,000 workers in jobs supporting the industry.
As Washington continues to look for homegrown success stories it can promote, particularly ones hiring good-paying manufacturing jobs across the Rust Belt and investments in rural America, wind power clearly works for America.
Wind brings jobs and economic benefits to all 50 states
U.S. wind power is the number one source of renewable energy generating capacity in the country, and has grown at an average annual pace of 12 percent over the last five years.
The American wind industry is a leading creator of jobs and economic development in areas that need it most, from America’s rural areas to Rust Belt manufacturing hubs. Currently, Texas, the national leader, has more than 22,000 wind jobs. Oklahoma, Iowa, Colorado, and Kansas each have more than 5,000 wind energy employees. In total, half of U.S. states have 1,000 or more wind jobs.
The U.S. wind industry continues to grow American jobs at a rapid pace.
In 2016, the industry added nearly 15,000 new jobs and now employs a record 102,500 Americans in all 50 states. Since 2013, wind jobs have grown more than 25 percent a year, and wind turbine technician is America’s fastest growing job. The industry provides well-paying jobs in wind energy project planning, siting, development, construction, manufacturing and supply chain, and operations.
The U.S. wind industry is also a major source of investment and economic development. The industry has invested more than $143 billion in U.S. wind projects over the last decade. Put another way, U.S. wind energy invested more in 2016 ($13.8 billion) than the annual revenue of the National Football League (NFL).
What’s even better is how widespread the benefits of wind energy are.
American wind power has wind plants (blue coloring below) or manufacturing facilities (red dots below) in all 50 states. And the Department of Energy recently found that more Americans work in wind than in nuclear, coal, natural gas or hydroelectric power generation.
Navigant shows wind poised for continued growth
As mentioned above, the new report from Navigant Consulting shows a bright future for wind power in the U.S.
The independent analysis concludes that the U.S. wind industry will drive billions of dollars in economic activity over the next four years while wind-related employment will expand across all 50 states.
The report forecasts wind energy’s growth from 2017 through 2020, in part, by the multi-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) in late 2015, and quantifies the jobs and economic benefits associated with those additions. Navigant finds the multi-year extension of the PTC will enable the development of around 35,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity across the country between 2017 and 2020.
Wind a Major Source of Economic Investment
In addition to creating jobs, the 35,000 MW of expected wind additions through 2020 will have a significant impact on the economy.
Investments in new wind turbines, construction and operations expenditures, and tax payments will support up to $24 billion in annual economic impact. Over the full 2017-2020 period, wind is expected to drive $85 billion in economic activity.
Much of this economic investment flows to rural areas and manufacturing hubs that need it most. In addition to investments in manufacturing, construction, and operation, wind projects provide substantial funding to states and local communities through sales, income, and property taxes. These localized revenues provide new resources to fix roads, buy ambulances, or improve schools.
Discover more about the economic benefits of wind and read the full Navigant study here.