TODAY’S STUDY: BEING READY (MEASURING HIGHER WINDS)
It is entirely laughable the way wind’s ignorant enemies try to use favorable facts about it to criticize it. They are obviously jealous.
The widely known example is birds. After an accidentally very bad start in the early 1980s, the wind industry has done more than most types of infrastructure to accommodate avian life and habitat. Whereas glass windows, tall buildings, transmission wires and house cats are all brutal to birds, wind turbines cause a tiny, tiny percentage – perhaps one-half of one percent – of bird incidents. Yet wind's enemies have created the impression in the public's mind that wind turbines are a terrible threat.
The worst human-made threat birds face is global climate change and wind is an answer to that.
Capacity factor is also misrepresented. Wind’s jealous critics use it to claim that because it is not always present, it is not ready to be a part of the U.S. power supply.
Capacity factor is a statistical evaluation made of every type of power generation. It compares online time to offline time. Nuclear plants have the highest capacity factor, around 70 percent. In fact, the trouble with nuclear is that it is hard to turn off, as the Japanese have recently so painfully discovered.
A coal plant’s capacity factor ranges from 55 to 70 percent. Wind’s capacity factor is 30 percent. Natural gas plants, the only type of power generation currently being built more than wind, have a capacity factor of 8 to 10 percent.
Wind’s enemies take advantage of the common knowledge that in any given location the wind is not blowing 100 percent of the time to suggest it is therefore unreliable. The supposed verification is its acknowledged 30 percent capacity factor.
Each power source has strengths and weaknesses. Nuclear is like somebody who is charismatic but unreliable. It generates powerfully but trips offline unpredictably and all at once. It also can’t be controlled so cannot match rising and falling consumer demand. Coal goes up and down painfully slowly and throws off dreadful emissions, like a lazy person with a bad smell.
Gas prices are unpredictable but it can easily be matched with demand (like somebody genial but frivolous). Geothermal energy may have the best combination of capacity factor and price but isn’t yet widely available, like someone too flirtatious to count on. Wind (and sun) are free and predictably available, though not everywhere, all the time. They are known, predictable, supportive of a sustainable way of life (and ready to love 8-).
The obvious solution is a system that incorporates the best of all sources while reducing the downside burden of each. That would require two fundamental advances in supplying electricity, both of which are being aggressively developed by transmission system operators across the U.S. and around the world.
The first is a high voltage grid that can deliver large supplies of resources from remote locations to highly populated demand centers. The second is a smart grid that can manage supplies of every type, capacity factor, cost and availability without causing a flicker of a light bulb.
With such a grid, wind and sun and geothermal can be harvested wherever they are, gas can be used to supplement where it is needed and coal and nuclear can finally be acknowledged as problematic and gradually phased out.
The basic idea: Go out and dance with everybody at the club, the charasmatic Romeos and charming lonely oldsters and wild youngsters, but go home with New Energy.
The study highlighted below reports on new wind measurements for breakthrough, taller turbines now (or soon to be) in use. The conclusion: In the best locations, wind’s potential is “enormous.” 10,500 gigawatts at 80 meters, 12,000 gigawatts at 100 meters. More than 35 states have more than 1,000 megawatts of capacity at 80 meters and more than 38 states have that at 100 meters.
The study’s conclusions come even without factoring in new developments in blade and mechanical technologies that make a turbine able to harvest even the mildest of breezes.
Yet wind’s enemies focus on this concept of capacity factor, claiming a turbine’s stated nameplate capacity is somehow a public deception or a scam. Balderdash. The same critics would not say that a 400 megawatt gas plant is really only 40 megawatts because its capacity factor is 10 percent.
This is called grandstanding because it is convincing to the uninformed. But it is not a criticism that influences investors who, over the last five years, have chosen wind to be 35 percent of new U.S. generation, second only to natural gas. No new coal plants have broken ground since 2008. No new nuclear plants have been built in decades.
Oddly, the more wind’s enemies talk, the better things get for wind. Shows the quality of the opposition. But nevermind the naysayers - wind is ready.
New Wind Energy Resource Potential Estimates for the United States
Dennis Elliott, et. al., January 27, 2011 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory and AWS Truewind)
U.S. Wind Mapping Rationale
Provides accurate information about the wind resource in each state
>For federal and state policy discussion, analysis, and implementation
>To support the 20% wind future
>To facilitate wind prospecting
>To support state, regional, and national wind integration analyses
Validates wind resource maps
>Essential to ensure stakeholder confidence in accuracy of map estimates
Supports the Program’s mission of eliminating barriers to wind energy.
click to enlarge
Technical Approach: Wind Mapping & Validation
Produce maps based on:
>Numerical modeling (AWS Truepower) and adjustments
>Empirical and analytical methods
>1 km2 or finer horizontal-resolution wind resource maps
Validate preliminary maps using public and private wind measurement data
Develop and validate maps at 50-m height for 39 states
Update mapping at 80-& 100-m heights for 48 contiguous states
>Develop wind potential estimates (net of exclusions)
Publish on DOE’s Wind Powering America (WPA) Web site
click to enlarge
U.S. Wind Mapping and Potential: 50-m Height
50-m wind mapping (2001-2009)
>Culmination of long-term project that began in 2001; jointly funded by states and DOE/WPA
>Comprehensive validation of WPA maps using available measurement data
>Incorporated state maps by others to produce a national wind map (“patchwork quilt” evident in some regions)
>50-m wind potential estimates to support U.S. 20% wind scenario study
click to enlarge
U.S. Wind Mapping and Potential: 80-& 100-m Heights
80-& 100-m mapping and potential estimates (2009-2010)
>New products for contiguous United States and each state developed through a collaborative project with AWS Truepower
>Annual average wind speed maps at 80-and 100-m heights
>NREL validated 19 selected state maps with tower measurement data from 300+ locations
>Wind potential estimates at 80 m and 100 m based on modeled wind turbine capacity factor (CF) data –CF example: 1-MW rated turbine at 30% CF = an average of 300 kW
Posted new products to WPA Web site (broke all-time DOE/EERE records for most hits)
>Hosted national Webinar to discuss new products and methodology
>Responded to many media and stakeholder requests about the new products
AWS Truepower’s Estimation of Plant Output
>For each point, wind speed distribution created from 12 years of weather simulations ()
>Then gross turbine output calculated for a generic IEC Class 2 turbine power curve, corrected for air density
click to enlarge
Development of Wind Potential Estimates
AWS Truepower produced a national dataset of estimated CF (not adjusted for losses)
>Spatial resolution of 200 m
>Heights of 80 m and 100 m
>Land-based areas only(no offshore), 48 contiguous states
NREL used the CF data to estimate the land area and wind potential for each state
>Windy land defined as areas with >= 30% CF, which are generally considered to be suitable for wind energy development
>Areas withCF >=30% have mean annual wind speeds of about 6.4 m/s and greater
>Excluded sensitive environmental lands and incompatible land-use areas
>For wind potential, assumed 5 MW/km2of installed nameplate capacity
Why use CF and not Power Class to produce wind potential estimates?CF is representative of power output from large wind turbines.Power classis representative of theoretical energy in the wind.
click to enlarge
Wind Potential – Key Findings
U.S. wind potential from areas with CF>=30% is enormous
>At 80 m, almost 10,500 GW capacity
>At 100 m, 12,000 GW capacity
Most of the wind potential comes from windy central regions, but many eastern and western states have significant wind potential
>35 states with >1,000 MWcapacity at 80 m
>38 states with >1,000 MWcapacity at 100 m
For higher CF ranges at 80 m, U.S. wind potential is still very large
>CF>=35%, >8,000 GWand 28 states >1,000 MW
>CF>=40%, >5,500 GWand 19 states >1,000 MW
Top 10 states with CF >=30% at 80 m
>By Installed Capacity: TX, KS, MT, NE, SD, ND, IA, WY, OK, NM
>By Annual Generation: TX, KS, NE, SD, MT, ND, IA, WY, OK, MN
click to enlarge
Proposed Next Steps
1. Develop new 80-and 100-m wind resource maps and potential estimates for Alaska and Hawaii
2. Update national maps to include entire United States
3. Incorporate new offshore maps as they become available
4. Develop maps at 30-m height for small wind turbine industry
5. Initiate comprehensive program to validate 80-and 100-m maps
6. Review and update exclusion methodology
7. Identify key areas for new measurements and updated assessments