[Paleopsych] More on wind power

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Fri Aug 19 14:50:48 UTC 2005

Harnessing the power of the wind using modern wind generators is one of the 
most popular sources for green power. Wind is created when the sun's rays 
cause temperature and air density differences between two or more air 
masses on the earth's surface. To equalize these pressure differences, air 
is drawn to a new location, creating wind. Other geographic factors affect 
the speed of the wind and its consistency.
Wind power is becoming an economically attractive energy source because of 
rising fuel costs, such as gas, coal and nuclear energy. It is also an 
environmentally attractive source of power because wind generators don't 
pollute the air or water. Extracting electric power from the wind requires 
the right site, a reliable machine and the flexibility of the power system 
to adapt to a capricious air stream.
Evolution of wind technology: Wind power technology has advanced in recent 
years from smaller, single home generators, to larger, high-powered 
machines of several hundred kilowatts suitable for mass deployment in 
megawatt-scale machines. Sitting on towers as tall as a 20-story building, 
these wind plants often have blades 300 feet long from tip to tip. Several 
wind generators are often clustered together to create wind farms.
California has been a leader in using wind power, due to their available 
wind resources in mountain regions, and their expanding need for 
electricity. Wind energy supplies one percent of the state's electricity. 
California's wind plants extend over more than 27,000 acres, yet only 10-15 
percent of the area is actually occupied by the turbines. The blustery 
region just east of the San Francisco Bay area boosts more wind turbines 
than anywhere else in the world, nearly half of the state's total.
The basic principles of wind turbines is fairly straightforward. A typical 
wind power system consists of a generator, blades, steel tower, 
meteorological equipment and on-site controls. Most wind generators require 
utility power to start and are subject to local rules/regulations. 
Drawbacks/dangers of wind machines: Windmills can be noisy because blade 
tips can approach the speed of sound; many turbine blades must be regularly 
scrubbed to avoid impairment of aerodynamic efficiency; large wind farms 
need expansive tracts of land; wind is intermittent and as wind speeds drop 
below eight mph, electricity generation stops; rotor blades could possibly 
kill or injure migratory birds.
Several electric utilities and communities have recently launched wind 
power programs.
Traverse City Mich. supplies power to 170 homes and businesses, which pay 
an additional 1.58 cents per kilowatt-hour, or about $7.58 per month. Their 
wind generator features 144-foot long blades perched on a 160-foot tower. 
With winds in that area averaging about 14.5 mph, it generates about 1.2 
million kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough for about 200 homes.
In 1993, Iowa's Waverly Light & Power installed and began operating an 
80-kilowatt wind generator for a population of 9,000. The $129,000 system 
demonstrates how a small utility can own and operate wind generation. Alta, 
Iowa also broke ground in 1998 for a $200 million wind farm with 259,750 
kilowatt turbines, the largest in the U.S. to date.
Great River Energy in Minnesota (formerly United Power & Cooperative 
Power). This power supplier began by pre-selling 3,750 "blocks" of wind 
generated power to interested consumers (1 block = 100 kilowatt-hours). 
Businesses and home owners have contracted to pay $2 extra per month for 
each 100-kWh block of green power that they use. Now that all the needed 
energy has been sold, Great River is building the $1.7 million wind farm in 
southwestern Minnesota
Altamont Pass and two smaller wind farms, all located in California, 
produced enough energy to power a city the size of San Francisco. That's 
2.8 billion kWh of electricity, or the equivalent of about 5 million 
barrels of oil.
One California-based turbine manufacturer, U.S. Windpower, joined forces 
with Iowa-Illinois Gas & Electric to set up wind farms on agricultural 
land. This will generate about 250 megawatts for area utilities and benefit 
100,000 homes.
Marshall (MN) Municipal Utilities and Minnesota Windpower worked and 
installed five 12-kilowatt (kW) wind turbines on city property, to serve 
12,000 homes.
Wind resources throughout the U.S. in relation to physical characteristic 
land surfaces:
Highest wind energy (class 7): Alaska (the Aleutian Islands and coastal 
areas of western Alaska. Also producing high winds are isolated areas in 
Hawaii and the Pacific Islands and isolated, high mountain summits and 
ridge crests in portions of the eastern and western U.S.
High averages of wind energy resources include (class 4 or higher): Great 
Plains, from the Texas panhandle and western Oklahoma to North Dakota and 
western Minnesota; southern Wyoming; Northwestern Montana plains; the 
Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Maine; the Pacific coast from Point 
Conception, California to Washington; the Gulf Coast along southern Texas; 
much of the Great Lakes shorelines; portions of Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto 
Rico, Virgin Islands, and Pacific Island; exposed ridge crests and mountain 
summits throughout the Appalachians and western U.S.; and isolated wind 
corridors such as the Columbia River gorge in Oregon and Washington and San 
Gorgonio Pass in California.
The future of wind power:
Wind power will not provide a reliable contribution to the energy mix until 
we can store excess electricity generated on windy days for use when the 
wind doesn't blow. However,
Wind energy's environmental benefits, coupled with dramatic cost reductions 
in turbines and an increase in their reliability, are causing increases in 
wind projects being proposed to decision-makers and communities throughout 
the United States.
For more information, available publications on wind power include:
htttp://www.wfec.org <http://www.wfec.org>
Click HERE  <greenpower.htm>to return to Green Power Opportunities

More information about the paleopsych mailing list