My Clean Break column today takes a look at the importance of bats when it comes to agriculture and how bat populations, under threat by white nose syndrome and wind turbines, are getting some help by the Electric Power Research Institute. EPRI researchers have designed a system that can detect a bat’s echolocation call and adjust the operation of a wind turbine to reduce its potential for harm. The researchers have run the models and done preliminary ground tests, and are close to demonstrating the system on the nacelle of a GE wind turbine. The ultimate goal is to have the detection system a common, build-in feature of wind turbines, completely integrated into the turbine’s control system. It’s just the latest example of how innovative thinking is addressing some of the problems associated with wind energy. Siemens and Vestas are watching the research closely.
Posts Tagged ‘wind’
Continental first: Ontario proposes ambitious feed-in tariffs for wind, solar, biogas/biomass and hydroThursday, March 12th, 2009
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- 80.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for rooftop solar.
- 19 cents for offshore wind of any size (first jurisdiction in N.A. to set price)
- 13.5 cents for onshore wind of any size
- 14.7 for biogas under 5 MW.
- 44.3 cents for 10-MW-plus solar, sliding to 71.3 cents as projects scale down to 10 kilowatts.
The government will commence eight-week consultation process and expects to have the prices in effect this summer. More to come….
UPDATE: Here’s an article I just filed to the Toronto Star’s Web site. It contains more info regarding the proposed tariffs. Ontario introduced basic feed-in tariffs two years ago under its standard offer program, but project size was capped at 10 megawatts. The new advanced feed-in tariff program lifts the cap (though solar is still capped at 10 megawatts). It also offers higher prices for smaller projects, such as community-based wind and solar projects or residential solar. Most groups seem happy with the pricing with the exception of large solar developers, who despite getting a 2-cent increase to 44 cents per kilowatt-hour still argue it’s not enough to make projects economical (especially if you factor in poor Canadian-U.S. exchange rate and persistently tight credit markets).
Of course it remains to be seen whether this new feed-in tariff structure, despite being generous and being first on the continent, will be enough to attract investment, development, manufacturing and jobs. Curious to hear viewpoints on this. Michigan introduced a bill last year that proposed similar advanced tariffs but it never got passed. Hawaii has proposed less ambitious tariffs, but Ontario’s will be first to go into effect and will be the most ambitious to date.
I meant to report this earlier but got sidetracked. Toronto-based WhalePower, maker of the tubercle-lined turbine blades inspired by humpback whale flippers, got the results back from its first independent study in the field. The blade design was tested on a 25-kilowatt Wenvor Technologies turbine at the Wind Energy Institute of Canada. The institude found that annualized energy production from the retrofitted blade increased by an estimated 20 per cent. You can find the data here and analysis here. “Rated power was attained at 12.5 metres per second versus the 15 meters per second previously published performance for the unmodified Wenvor turbine. (Caveat: it’s an estimate because the test of the retrofitted blade followed International Electro-Technical Commission standards, while the benchmark data did not). “An improvement of just 1 or 2 per cent in AEP is significant,” said Stephen Dewar, WhalePower’s director of R&D. “Here we have about 20 per cent with low noise. We’re thrilled by this result.”
The next step, I imagine, is to perform a more comprehensive apples-to-apples test on a larger turbine. Hopefully these results will help the company raise the capital it needs to take its testing to the next level. Perhaps at some point it will begin catching the attention of some of the bigger wind-energy players.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says he’s not prepared to tolerate NIMBYism regarding renewable-energy projects when community concerns go beyond health, safety and environmental concerns. In other words, those who oppose wind turbines, biomass facilities and solar farms “just because” — i.e. because they don’t like the look of them, because they think wind energy is uneconomical, because they think climate change is a crock, because they believe it will affect property values – won’t be permitted to derail projects by manipulating local and provincial regulations.
McGuinty said the province’s new Green Energy Act to be tabled later this month will aim to streamline/clarify/override local bylaws and regulations that can be used by certain groups to delay or stop proposed renewable-energy projects.
It’s a laudable goal. (more…)
News was mixed today, depending on which way the wind blew. In the United States, the American Wind Energy Association announced the “exciting” news that a record 8,358 megawatts of wind capacity had been installed across the United States in 2008. Assuming an average capacity factor of 33 per cent, that’s roughly 2,800 megawatts of reliable power generation built in a single year. And how many nukes have been built? Zilch. When will the first new nuke plant in North America likely become operational? Oh, say, 2018? A lot of wind can be deployed in those intervening nine years. But I digress. AWEA said the wind industry in 2008 channelled $17 billion in new investments into the U.S. economy, and represented 42 per cent of newly installed power-generation capacity — most of the rest coming from natural gas. In all, the wind industry spurred the creation of 35,000 jobs last year. (more…)