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U.S. wind energy grows by record 8.3 GW, but there's bad news too

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Via Climate Progress


The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced the remarkable news today:

The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing 8,358 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity (enough to serve over 2 million homes).

Half of that was brought online in the fourth quarter


“Our numbers are both exciting and sobering,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “The U.S. wind energy industry’s performance in 2008 confirms that wind is an economic and job creation dynamo, ready to deliver on the President’s call to double renewable energy production in three years. At the same time, it is clear that the economic and financial downturn have begun to take a serious toll on new wind development. We are already seeing layoffs in the area where wind’s promise is greatest for our economy: the wind power manufacturing sector. Quick action in the stimulus bill is vital to restore the industry’s momentum and create jobs as we help make our country more secure and leave a more stable climate for our children.”

The new wind projects completed in 2008 account for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added nationally last year, according to initial estimates, and will avoid nearly 44 million tons of carbon emissions, the equivalent of taking over 7 million cars off of the road.

post #2 of 10

Taken from the AWEA year-end report for 2008:


  • "U.S. becomes "Number One" in wind:  During the summer of 2008, the U.S. wind industry launched past the 20,000-megawatt (MW) installed capacity milestone, achieving in two years what had previously taken two decades (the 10,000-MW mark was reached in 2006).  Also this summer, the U.S. passed Germany to become the world leader in wind generation.   By the end of September, the U.S. had over 21,000 MW of wind capacity up and running.  With additional projects coming on line every week since, the wind industry is on its way to charting another record-shattering year of growth.  That 21,000 MW of capacity will generate over 60 billion kWh of electricity in 2009, enough to serve over 5.5 million American homes and eliminating the burning of
    • 30.4 million short tons of coal (enough to fill two 1,000-mile-long coal trains),
    • 91 million barrels of oil per year, or
    • 560 Bcf of natural gas (about 9% of the natural gas used for electricity generation).

    "Wind energy installations are well ahead of the curve for contributing 20% of the U.S. electric power supply by 2030 as envisioned by the U.S. Department of Energy."  -- AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher"


  • ...that paragraph says a whole lot about wind power's success to date in the USA... Hopefully we have the wisdom to keep up the momentum!!! 


  • You can catch the full article HERE.

post #3 of 10

60 billion kWh in a year means the all the turbines are producing at full capacity for 33% of the time year around.


Not bad if possible but I often see turbines not rotating due to low wind and maintenance time comes off the availability.


The reason to be picky is that the speaker uses the 60 billion to calculate the fossil fuels replaced.


It would be interesting to know what wind speed the commercial turbines are rated at. For residential wind turbines are usually rated at 28 mph wind speed which is rather unusual. I doubt if 1% of residential turbines ever meet the rated output.

post #4 of 10

Just found a couple of answers to my questions on the AWEA site:

1.  From the AWEA site


Operating characteristics of a wind turbine: A wind turbine runs 60% to 80% of the time, and
operates at its full rated power output level 10% of the time. On an average day, it generates
30% to 35% of what it would generate if it ran at full power all the time.


The annual 60 billion kWh is installed mW capacity * 8760 * 33%


2. From a diffrent page on their site:

Large wind systems require average wind speeds of 6 meters/second (13 mph)


post #5 of 10

We need all of the energy we can produce and there is still going to be a shortage in a few years. One way to help the energy situation and your electric bills is to use capacitors to save the electricity that everyone is wasting but paying for. The US Dept of Energy estimates this to be $16 billion a year that we are paying for electricity that is unusable. This can all be saved. Our capacitors reduce the average home electric bill at least 10% and up to 25% depending how many motors are being used, i.e.refrigerators, washers, dryers, garbage disposals, fans, pool pumps, etc. We can only save that which is being wasted by picking it up on the top breaker and recycling it back to the motors. This process removes the heat generated by non usable electricty making all of the motors last longer. To understand this look up POWER FACTOR in the WIKIPEDIA. The best news is that the capacitors are cost effective, that the savings pay for themselves in a year or two with on going savings for the next 20 years. DO THE MATH: MONTHLY BILL X 10% X kWH's price X 12 MONTHS X 20 YEARS. The best investment you can make.

post #6 of 10

This is covered in another thread (Anyone heard of the PowerGard) with a correct reply by Accord Guy. 


Since the residential consumer in the US doesn't pay according to power factor how can the thing save you money?


As far as helping the system see the other thread - 


On an industrial basis I have used capacitors to adjust the power factor - on a residential basis it is a scam and potentially a dangerous scam. The design of the system used was specifically for our system - not a generic one size does all.

post #7 of 10

One note about wind power here in the USA and often being compared to Germany (who apparantly has now the 2nd most installed wind power).  At first it was a race of generated power as they had more installed.  Then, since we have apparantly better wind on this side of the pond, once we blew past that number - the AWEA was watching the potential installed power numbers, which we have since surpassed becoming the world leader in both power installation potential, and actual generated power.


There has also been talk recently of this growing source of power overwhelming our current national grid's ability to handle it.  It is anticipated that new technologies will be installed to help dynamically adjust the grid to handle wind and solar inputs - but there is some way to go on this.  Plus there is likely a need for some major installations or retrofits to HVDC (High Voltage DC) lines to handle renewables.  I think that this will all be handled - with a few bumps along the way.  There are likely to be "news stories" about these issues trying to be dramatic...

post #8 of 10

That is the problem that if there is not enough wind they are standing still but I'm still of the opinion that there should be more wind mills.

post #9 of 10

Commercial wind is built knowing the rotors will not always be turning. Unlike residential wind advertisements the rated capacities and wind speeds considered are realistic. Normally the rated capacity is multiplied by 0.33 to dervive the actual expected output. 


Commercial turbines are also normally rated with realistic wind speeds - not the 25 to 28 mph that many residential turbine suppliers use. Double the wind speed and the turbine output goes up by 8 times. Without this 'boost' most residential units output would look very bad and make sales difficult.


Commercial turbines are also located higher to get into 'better' wind conditions - again unlike often advertised for residential turbines.


The real joke with wind are the rooftop units that claim high outputs. I have read that in a city in Japan one system failed and they used power from the grid to turn the rotors so it was not so embarassing.

post #10 of 10

Vestas - a giant in the wind industry - announced layoffs of 1900 employees... about 9% of it's workforce, due to hardware supply exceeding current demand.  Still the biggest company making wind turbines, and still profitable overall.


You can read more about it on - here.

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