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Wind power provides half of the electricity on US grid for first time ever



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.

bladeless wind turbines large

Bladeless Turbines: The Future Of Wind Energy Harvesting?


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.


Wind energy rise makes 248,000 wind related jobs by 2020 possible



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.

U.S. wind power remains on track to supply 10 percent of the country's electricity by 2020.

New Data: Wind Powers 5.5 Percent of U.S. Grid


All of the new wind farms built over the past few years are making an impact: new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration finds the country generated more than 5.5 percent of its electricity using wind in 2016.

That comes on the heels of a recent announcement that wind is now the country’s largest source of installed renewable generating capacity. All told, the U.S. now has enough wind to power 24 million American homes.

Even more impressive results at the state level

At the state level is where things get really exciting. Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Oklahoma all generated at least 20 percent of their electricity with wind last year. Overall, wind supplies at least 10 percent of the electricity in 14 states.

Most impressive among those rising up the wind energy chart is New Mexico, which increased its total annual wind generation by 73 percent over 2015 levels. Wind reliably supplies just under 11 percent of the state’s electricity.

Growing wind creates a better tomorrow

All of this growth boosts rural American economies. Wind has attracted over $140 billion into the U.S. economy over the last decade, and billions more are on the way. It also offers farmers and ranchers a new cash crop—these landowners are paid $245 million every year for hosting wind turbines.

“Wind power is cheap, clean and infinite, and it saves Oklahomans hundreds of dollars annually on their utility bills,” said Brad Raven, District One Commissioner for Beaver County Oklahoma. “When you consider that landowners receive millions in annual royalties from wind projects, you have an energy sector that is literally saving rural Oklahoma.”

More progress is possible

Wind remains on track to supply 10 percent of the country’s electricity by 2020, and grid operators increasingly find integrating more of it doesn’t pose a problem. The Southwest Power Pool recently set a new record, with wind exceeding 50 percent grid penetration last month. And much more can be done:

“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,” said Bruce Rew, Southwest Power Pool’s vice president of operations. “Now we have the ability to reliably manage greater than 50 percent. It’s not even our ceiling.”

Elsewhere, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found 30 percent renewable energy integration was possible in the Eastern Interconnection, the grid serving most of the Eastern U.S., without any further technological advances necessary.

For more information on how wind is reliably and affordably helping the U.S. move toward energy independence, check out this video:

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