The Oracle of Omaha sure loves wind power. Of course, Warren Buffett invests to make money, so the continuing wind plays by companies in his Berkshire Hathaway empire are really a sign of the sector’s economic attractiveness.
The price of electricity has dropped in states that have developed extensive wind power over the past five years. It’s just a slight drop, but here’s the kicker: the other states have seen a hefty rise.
Wind power is pretty easy to do in the gusty Great Plains, and through passes and other breezy corridors in the mountainous West – and that’s where the fast-growing renewable energy source has made its greatest strides.
Wind power generation in Texas continued its steady upward march in 2013, and it’s now on the doorstop of 10 percent of the state’s electricity supply.
Renewable energy critics harp on the variability of wind and solar production, suggesting (or pretending) that this increasingly manageable challenge is some kind of fatal flaw.
One of the funny things about the wind-power-and-birds controversy is that the folks who most frequently raise the issue are political conservatives who otherwise show little regard for the state of wildlife or the environment.
Vestas is leading an effort to bring hybrid power generation – systems that combine factory-refurbished wind turbines and what the company calls “advanced diesel power generation” – to the poor, beginning with as many as 13 projects in Kenya that could serve 200,000 people with electricity at 30 percent below the current cost of diesel-only power production.
That announcement by MidAmerican Energy last spring that it intended to add 1,050 more megawatts of installed wind power capacity in Iowa – the state with more wind power per capita than any other, already – wasn’t mere talk. As part of a big information dump on the effort, the company said this week that all five of the projects are now under construction.
How important can it be when giant companies that consume vast amounts of energy commit to buying renewables?
As we reported just yesterday, wind power has hit a bit of a rough patch, with first-half-of-year installations down for the third year in a row. But don’t look for this trend to last very long, says the International Energy Agency.
The government is trumpeting a new report that shows “wind energy production” reached record highs in 2012, which is weird because what they mean is wind energy capacity, and that’s old news.
Xcel is on a wind roll. Days after announcing a subsidiary’s plans to purchase nearly 700 megawatts of wind power for customers in New Mexico and Texas, the company – thought not long ago to be souring on wind – turned its attention to the Upper Midwest, telling regulators it wanted to add 600 MW of power from three planned wind-farm projects to its portfolio.
Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based.
Vestas is fighting back against “myths” propagated by “professional anti-wind activists,” and it’s beginning its campaign in Australia, “a hot-bed of anti-wind activity” where “wild claims” run rampant.
The prospects for high-altitude wind technology are looking a little more buoyant with the revelation that Makani Power has been acquired by Google[x], the semi-secret Google lab that’s dabbled in wacky stuff like driverless cars and wired eyeglasses.
The Romney presidential campaign on recently came out firmly against the production tax credit for wind power.
Keep the pressure on, Mr. President - that was the message recently from a broad coalition of US environmental movers and shakers hopeful of seeing wind turbines sending clean power ashore as soon as possible.
Inconsistency of supply is one of the biggest drawbacks of renewables such as wind and solar.
Put simply: the wind doesn't blow all day, and the sun doesn't shine at night.
Giant towers, tall as football fields, have become a prerequisite to maximizing wind-turbine power production.
The Obama administration has instituted new voluntary guidelines for project siting and development.