Wind Power

Wind Power

An underwater grid for offshore wind, funded by Google

I have a feature story in the latest issue of Popular Science: “Hundreds of Miles of Wind Farms, Networked Under the Sea.” It’s about the Atlantic Wind Connection, a new project (funded, in part, by Google) that would lay high-voltage transmission lines beneath the sea floor along the mid-Atlantic coast, opening the area up to offshore wind developers. I managed to get through the article without using the tired term “game changer,” but … this is a Big Deal. Here’s how the story begins: During the last ice age, glaciers a mile high pushed several dozen cubic miles of rock, …

Wind Power

Google to buy 100.8 megawatts of Oklahoma wind energy

Google’s Oklahoma wind farm will be built this year.Photo: Marcin WicharyIt’s getting a bit hard to keep up with all of Google’s green investments these days — $168 million put into a big solar power plant project one week; $100 million for the world’s largest wind farm the next. But this week’s big money move — the third so far this month — is different. It also involves wind but is a power purchase agreement (known as a PPA in the utility trade) rather than a direct investment in a specific project. The deal with wind developer NextEra Energy Resources …

Cape Wind approved: The U.S. could have offshore wind this year

The nation's first offshore wind farm could start construction as early as this fall. The Cape Wind project got final approval for its operating plans today, after ten years of opposition and permitting headaches. Michael Bromwich, last seen terrifying Rachel Maddow on the subject of deepwater drilling, said that the wind farm "will accelerate interest in the renewable energy sector generally and the offshore wind sector specifically, and spur innovation and investment in our nation’s energy infrastructure.” (At least if he's wrong on this one, it'll probably be okay.) Renewables fans are pleased: "Once fully operational, the wind farm will …

Wind Power

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 …

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 …

Wind Power

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 …

Wind Power

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 …

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 …

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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