Monday, March 8, 2010

Texas Sets New US Wind Energy Record

Texas set a new record for US wind energy generation late last week when at 6:37am on Friday wind turbines provided 19 per cent of the electricity mix – the equivalent of 6,272MW - to its main grid.

The figure, which did not include power generated in its windy Panhandle region, is expected to increase significantly in the coming years as the state plans to invest nearly $5bn on increasing the number of transmission lines in the state supporting new wind farms.

Currently on windy days the state has to slow or shut down its turbines in West Texas, which are responsible for about 89 per cent of its wind capacity, because of a lack of transmission lines.

The construction of additional transmission lines is expected to resolve the problem and significantly increase the state's use of wind energy, but the project is currently bogged down in the courts following a series of legal challenges.

A 2008 Department of Energy report indicated that, if the country is to succeed in hitting its target of generating 20 per cent of its energy via renewable sources by 2030, it would need to invest heavily in new transmission lines.

In related news, Hawaii has moved forward with plans to establish the state as a renewable energy hub after developer Kahuku Wind Power last week secured a $117m loan guarantee from the Department of Energy for a planned 30MW wind farm on the island of Oahu.

The Kahuku wind farm, which will be built by First Wind Holdings, is expected to be based on 12 turbines, producing 2.5 megawatts each and providing enough power in total to power 7,700 homes.

Unlike other large wind installations, a battery storage system will also be introduced to make electricity delivery to the Hawaiian Electric Company more consistent and to stabilise the energy load.

The facility is considered an ideal test case for the new energy storage approach as each island has its own self-contained energy grid. The cons truction process is anticipated to create 200 jobs and the finished plant will require between six and 10 permanent staff to operate it.

Hawaii is fast emerging as a leading player in the US renewable energy sector after the state government announced plans to produce 70 per cent of its energy from low-carbon sources within 20 years.


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