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Google invests $100 million in giant Oregon wind farm

Google is helping to create economies of scale for clean energy.Photo: T.J.Another day, another $100 million invested in clean energy. Google has been on a green tech investment roll of late. Last week, the search giant put $168 million into BrightSource Energy's 370-megawatt solar thermal power plant, currently the world's largest solar project, which is under construction in the Southern California desert. And on Monday, Google announced it would invest $100 million in the 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Oregon. Shepherds Flat, being built near Arlington, Ore., will be the world's largest turbine farm when completed, if it hasn't …

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Google antes up $100 million (more) for advanced wind farm

Google's latest investment in wind power is much more than just the latest chapter in the company's support for renewable energy. It's part of a larger strategy that could see the search giant turn into a (very profitable) behemoth in the world of energy. According to Katie Fehrenbacher, veteran renewable energy reporter at Earth2Tech: The Shepherds Flat wind project, into which Google is pouring $100 million, will be the largest wind farm in the world, covering 30 square miles in Oregon Wind power is a great investment for businesses (like Google) smart enough to understand it. This isn't charity: Google's past …

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Texas to install world’s largest wind energy storage system

The Notrees wind farm.Photo: Duke EnergyThey like to do things big in Texas, so it's no surprise that the Lone Star state will launch the world's largest wind battery storage project. Duke Energy is not a Texas company, but it owns the aptly named Notrees wind farm in the Texas panhandle. The North Carolina power giant is teaming up with an Austin area startup called Xtreme Power to install a 36-megawatt battery at the 153-megawatt Notrees Windpower Project near Kermit, Texas. That's one big battery. Such technology is likely to become crucial as wind farms become ever larger but erratic …

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Wind farm sizes suggest bigger is no better

This post originally appeared on Energy Self-Reliant States, a resource of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's New Rules Project. Have wind developers hit a financial sweet spot above which more turbines results in disproportionate land acquisition and lease costs? Are crane and construction economies of scale no greater? Are NIMBY concerns mitigated with a smaller number of turbines? Wind generation may be growing rapidly in the United States, but the size of wind farms -- measured by the number of turbines -- is not. Rather, wind farm capacity grows largely because of increasing turbine size. The reason is unclear, but …

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America has way more ‘disturbed’ land for wind power than it needs, says report

Yes, renewable energy is more living-thing-friendly than fossil fuels, but given a choice, animals would probably prefer that we take our damn opposable thumbs and go back to living in caves. Wind turbines don't sully a hilltop the same way mountaintop-removal mining would, but they do have a footprint. That's why a new study published in the journal PLoS One is such good news: It finds that there is enough already-disturbed land in the U.S. suitable for wind to produce 3,500 gigawatts of power. That's more power than is consumed by the entire U.S. Disturbed land means agriculture, mining, oil …

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Wind turbine suffers catastrophic failure; no one is irradiated

Last month, a wind turbine on a North Dakota wind farm suffered a "catastrophic failure" when "oversight" and "human error" -- features of energy infrastructure which scientists suggest are unavoidable -- led to the enormous turbine falling off its mount. The most recent reports indicate that so far the only casualties are a wide swath of grass and possibly a family of voles. So far no evacuation zone has been declared. There are no threats to sea life, and the fallout from the disaster was not detectable thousands of miles away. Cleanup efforts are in progress, and will not include …

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Wind turbines kill birds, but they don’t have to — here’s how to do better [VIDEO]

Here's a stomach-churning video of a wind turbine karate-chopping a vulture. Watching it will probably change the way you look at wind turbines. (Seriously, bird-lovers be warned: It is intense.) This video, originally captured by a tourist in Greece, vividly illustrates what happens 440,000 times a year, according to the American Bird Conservancy. If that sounds like a lot -- it's nearly one bird every minute -- just imagine what will happen as wind power ramps up to many times its current footprint. Fortunately, there are solutions. ABC says that bird strikes can be minimized if regulations force wind power …

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Money is a miracle cure for ‘wind turbine syndrome’

There’s a down side to getting energy from wind: People who live near turbine farms report annoyance and even health effects from the noise. Amazingly, though, people with turbines on their land don’t have these symptoms, even though they live closer to the turbines than their suffering neighbors! What’s effecting this miraculous immunity? Turns out: Money. According to public health professor Simon Chapman, people who benefit financially from wind turbines somehow don’t report “wind turbine syndrome,” even though the turbines are right in their backyards. Incredible! What other ailments can this miracle medicine cure? I volunteer to be the test …

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America’s energy use, in one nifty chart

Periodically, it's nice to step back and get reacquainted with some energy basics. There's no better way to do it than with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's famed (or oughtta be famed) energy flow charts. Here's the most recent, from 2009 (click for larger version): Chart: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory I'm not going to ruin the pretty picture with a bunch of wonk talk. Just a few basic things that are worth noticing: 1. Holy sh*t we waste a lot of energy! I mean seriously. Look up there in the top right -- "rejected energy." Well over half of the raw …

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New wind now costs the same as new coal — the tiebreaker is one of them kills you

The radical environmentalists at Bloomberg have declared that the world's best new wind projects now produce electricity that costs about the same as electricity produced from new coal-fired power plants. A lot goes into these calculations, but here's the bottom line: wind costs $65 a megawatt-hour, while power from new coal-fired power plants costs about $68 an hour. Coal would be much cheaper if there were no environmental controls on it. So if you like asthma, poor air quality, and premature death, be sure to vote for whichever politicians are all about rolling back environmental controls.