Archive | Wind turbines

Hywind Scotland

World’s largest floating windfarm gets ok in Scotland

Hywind Scotland

Hywind Scotland will begin building what will become the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm. The initial pilot project will consist of five turbines generating 30 MW, capable of powering nearly 20,000 homes.The wind farm will be 12 miles offshore, presumably far enough out that NIMBYs with delicate sensibilities will not be able to complain about it.

Floating turbines can be sited in deeper water, further offshore, where fixed turbines can not be. Thus, once the technology becomes mature and tested, floating offshore wind turbines can be installed around the planet and will be cost-competitive with carbon-based electricity

The development, known as Hywind Scotland, differs from conventional offshore windfarms by using turbines attached to the seabed by a three-point mooring spread and anchoring system. The turbines are interconnected by cables, one of which exports electricity from the pilot farm to the shore at Peterhead.

Research from the Carbon Trust has suggest that floating wind concepts could potentially reduce generating costs for offshore developments.

Last month the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) released a report indicating that floating offshore wind could be a credible, cost-effective form of low-carbon energy for the UK by the mid-2020’s.

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines0 Comments


U.S. creeps towards offshore wind, could start soaring


The United States still has no offshore wind, mostly due to pointlessly complicated permitting regulations coupled with NIMBYs who think renewable energy is just a wonderful idea so long as they don’t have to look at it. However, the very first U.S. offshore wind, the Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island, is finally being built. Output will be a wee little 30 MW, enough for about 30,000 homes. By the end of this decade there might be 3.3 GW of offshore wind operational, says the government. That would be a huge improvement, even as some of the largest coal and natural gas plants produce that much power on their own. However, big potential is certainly there, especially off New Jersey and North Carolina.

According to the report [PDF], as of June 20, 2015, there were 21 US offshore wind projects in the project pipeline, representing 15,650 MW of offshore wind. Breaking that down, 13 projects totaling 5,939 MW have achieved site control or a more advanced phase of development, and approximately 3,305 MW are aiming for commercial operation by 2020.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has issued 5,768 MW of offshore wind leases, with a total value of $14.5 million, as well as identifying wind energy areas in New Jersey and North Carolina totaling nearly 9,000 MW of additional potential capacity that has yet to be auctioned.

The UK has by far the most offshore wind of any nation, especially in Scotland. The West Coast waters get too deep too fast for turbines to be practical. The  East Coast, with its shallow waters, is ideal for offshore turbines. Let’s hope it happens.

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines

Intel micro wind turbines

Intel installs micro wind turbines on HQ roof, for testing, power

Intel micro wind turbines

Intel has installed 58 small wind turbines on the roof of their Santa Clara headquarters to help power the building and to test renewables. The turbines are manufactured by JLM Energy, 6-7 feet tall, weigh 30 lbs., and sited on the edge on the building to gather the most wind, which averages 8-9 mph. Intel, an industry leader in using renewables, also has solar on the roof, and is the largest voluntary user of renewable energy in the country.

Intel has installed 58 micro-turbines atop the roof of their headquarters in Santa Clara, California, in what is a two-fold project aiming at providing renewable energy for the building, as well as acting as a proof of concept project, “in which Intel hopes to collect data that will help the company better understand green power and identify ways to continue evolving its sustainability programs.”

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines


Global wind power growing fast, led by China


Total worldwide wind power capacity is now 370 GW. 50 GW was installed in 2014. China led the way with 23 GW of new wind power, and has 31% of total world wind power, followed by the US at 18%. China is, uh, blowing past us.

These totals are from the comprehensive Global Wind Report for 2014 from the Global Wind Energy Council (PDF).

2014 was a great year for the wind industry, setting a new record of more than 51 GW installed in a single year, bringing the global total close to 370 GW. We knew there would be a substantial recovery last year, but nobody predicted that China would install 23 GW of new wind power alone (another record). Elsewhere in Asia, India had an unspectacular year, but we expect great things from India in the coming 5-10 years as the new government’s renewables push gets underway; and there were significant new installations in Pakistan and the Philippines, helping Asia to once again lead all regional markets and pass Europe in terms of cumulative installed capacity


Posted in Energy, Wind turbines

Makani airborne tethered wind wurbine

Google testing airborne tethered wind turbines

Makani airborne tethered wind wurbine
Google X will soon be testing a 84-foot version of their Makani airborne wind turbine. It flies at 1,500 feet altitude, where wind speeds are much faster, and is tethered to the ground. Wind at altitude is also considerably more variable than on the ground, especially where the test will be, and Google says they want a few crashes so they can determine just how far the devices can be pushed. Each one can generate a not insubstantial 600kW.

The energy kite simulates the tip of a wind turbine blade, which is the part of a turbine that makes most of the energy. The kite is launched from the ground station by the rotors, which act like propellers on a helicopter. Once in the air, the kite generates power by flying in large circles where the wind is strong and consistent. Air moving across rotors mounted on the kite forces them to rotate, driving a generator to produce electricity, which travels down the tether to the grid.

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines

EU installed offshore wind 2014. The US still has none.

Well done America, you’ve just about killed offshore wind

EU installed offshore wind 2014. The US still has none.

EU installed offshore wind 2014. The US still has none.

The usual motley assortment of rich NIMBYs, traditional energy companies, and regulatory hurdles have mostly managed to stop offshore wind farms here in the US. Considering all the bleating from DC and Important People about how we need to go renewable energy, I’d say it was ridiculous we still have no offshore wind. Other countries are racing ahead of us on this. We talk a good game yet do little.

A recent auction of parcels off Martha’s Vineyard went for a paltry $2 an acre Some parcels had no bids at all. In previous auctions, parcels went for $100 an acre. On this the ruling class stands united. Both the Kennedy’s and Bill Koch have spent millions to defeat offshore wind in that area.

After nearly 15 years of planning, two utilities dropped their power purchase agreement (PPA) contracts with the project, citing missed finance and construction deadlines. Just last week, the Boston Globe reported that Cape Wind dropped contracts that were meant to provide assembly areas for workers and turbine components. Cape Wind officials say that these missed deadlines stem from years of heavy legal burdens brought on by protest groups, particularly the Alliance for Nantucket Sound, which is supported by the vocal Bill Koch [and the Kennedys.]

Offshore wind turbines can be much bigger than on land, and thus generate more power. Plus., they are actually easier to install because there are no worries about trucking immense turbine blades to remote locations. You might think it would be a good thing to have locally-generated power. But swarms of NIMBYs fight offshore wind relentlessly elsewhere too. A New Jersey project is now uncertain, to to regulatory fights. A Delaware wind farm is on hold. It is possible a Rhode Island project may actually start this summer. Let’s hope so.

The image (PDF) show offshore wind development in the EU. It makes us look pathetic, doesn’t it?

Why is it we have to argue about everything?

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines


Small wind turbines are cute and mostly useless

Hi, I'm cute and mostly useless

Little bitty wind turbines appear virtuous, creating green power so everyone can feel good about them. In reality, they generally way underperform their specs due to turbulence on the ground and bad design. For reliable wind power, ginormous turbines, especially offshore where the wind is more reliable, are by far more efficient.

Wind turbulence and inconsistency near the ground makes it difficult to site baby turbines efficiently, make worse by ludicrously optimistic specs and lack of testing by the manufacturer.

Truth is that unless you live in a very windy place, you will be better off putting your money into solar PV. Period.

Wind turbines need wind. Not just any wind, but the nicely flowing, smooth, laminar kind. That cannot be found at 30 feet height. It can usually not be found at 60 feet. Sometimes you find it at 80 feet. More often than not it takes 100 feet of tower to get there. hose towers cost as much or more, installed, as the turbine itself. How much tower you need for a wind turbine to live up to its potential depends on your particular site; on the trees and structures around it etc. Close to the ground the wind is turbulent, and makes a poor fuel for a small wind turbine.

The world of small wind turbines is much like the wild-west of a century ago: Anything goes, and no claim is too bold. Wind turbine manufacturers will even routinely make claims that are not supported by the Laws of Physics. Energy production claims are often exaggerated, as are power curves. In fact, this is the rule, not the exception. Those manufacturers that tell the truth are the exception. Many manufacturers have never tested their wind turbines under real-world conditions. Some have never tested their turbine before selling it to unsuspecting customers. We are not joking! Because we sell grid-tie inverters for small wind turbines we have a front-row seat when it comes to actual operation of turbines of many makes and models. It turns out that some do not work; they self-destruct within days, and sometimes run away and blow their inverter within seconds (clearly nobody at the factory bothered to ever test it).

Also, vertical-axis small turbines are seldom at optimal angles to the wind. They are also installed in close proximity at each other, creating turbulence, and when installed in tandem with solar PV, the south-facing panels creating even more turbulence.

Many of these small turbines are what is called a Savonius design, which looks like two halves or a barrel stuck together. They are cheap but not very efficient, since half the turbine is blocking the wind while the other half scoops it. It barely manages to get 40% efficiency compared to horizontal axis turbines and creates a huge amount of turbulence in its wake.


As for that London skyscraper with the turbines at the top, they hardly move at all.

Then there are the turbines that are put on buildings for no other reason than to advertise “I am green!” The developer of the ugliest building in London that looks like a giant shaver actually wanted to put motors on the turbines so that would turn, because they sure don’t in the wind. Fortunately the architect refused so they just sit there.

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines

This will never be off Nantucket now. The US still has no offshore wind.

Cape Wind off Nantucket dead, killed by wealthy in class war against us

This will never be off Nantucket now. The US still has no offshore wind.

This will never be off Nantucket now. The US still has no offshore wind.

Wealthy, Republicans and Democrats alike in Cape Cod and Nantucket, have succeeded in killing the Cape Wind project, which would have delivered green energy to Massachusetts and been the first offshore wind project in the US. These deep pocket elitists, including the Kennedys, fought Cape Wind for decades, pouring millions into obstructing it. The sight of a wind turbine way offshore is apparently too much for these upper class twits to endure. And, oh the horror, they might actually see a turbine closer up while out on their sailing yachts. Certainly that will never do. So it’s screw everyone else.

In an e-mailed statement, Cape Wind representative Mark Rogers said that the company would “pursue every option available to us” in order to move the project forward. He cited a “Force Majeure” provision in the PPA that extends milestones if an “unusual, unexpected and significant event” occurred outside the control of Cape Wind.

That “event” was the onslaught of litigation from the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a group of local wealthy property owners who spent millions of dollars over the years to stop Cape Wind.

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines


Offshore wind turbines grow in size and power. Still none in U.S.


There are still no offshore wind turbines in the U.S. because of course it’s so much easier to argue for decades about installing them than actually do anything constructive. The rest of the planet though, is happily installing offshore wind turbines, and making us look ridiculous in the process.

Vestas just received orders for 32 ginormous 8.0 MW V164 turbines, the most powerful ever built. They will be installed in Liverpool Bay in the UK, delivering a total of 258 MW of power, enough for 180,000 homes. The blades are 262 feet long. Hub height is 344 feet, longer than a football field.

About the V164-8.0 MW
• 8MW rated power, with an optimal rotor to generator ratio
• 80m blades, the equivalent of nine double decker London buses
• Swept area of 21.124m2 , larger than the London Eye
• The nacelle is 20m long, 8m wide and 8m high, weighing approximately 390 tonnes including the hub
• Approximate hub height of 105m
• Approximate tip height of 187m
• Reduces operational and maintenance costs by enabling customers to run fewer, larger turbines
• World record production by a single wind turbine of 192 MWh in 24 hour period (October 2014)

Siemens makes assembling offshore wind turbines look like assembling Legos…

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines

1980's wind turbines at Altamont

Small bird deaths by modern wind turbines ‘biologically insignificant’

1980's wind turbines at Altamont

1980’s wind turbines at Altamont Pass are more hazardous to birds than modern turbines

Previous studies on avian deaths by wind turbines generalized from studies done at Altamont Pass CA, which have ancient, more dangerous turbines. Modern wind turbines are much larger, slower, do not have latticing, are out of hunting range of raptors, and lower than small bird migration paths. A new peer-reviewed study shows that avian death rate from these new turbines is less than 0.01% of the small passerby bird population, which is “biologically insignificant,” especially considering that 30% die of natural causes each year. A study of raptor and water bird death from wind turbines is coming.

The avian mortality rate found in the new study updates estimates from previous studies that over-sampled information from the earliest wind farms at California’s Altamont Pass. The faster-turning small kilowatt-level 1980s turbines were low on the hillside, where raptors swoop on updrafts to hunt prey on the ground.

Posted in Energy, Wind turbines


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