ECOLEAF: Renewable Wind Powered Energy

Ecoleaf Wind Power
The increase in the number of working wind farms can be attributed to government incentives. Wind power’s skyrocketing growth and its constantly-increasing capacity make it one of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies today. However, wind energy is bogged down by expensive and constant maintenance on the turbines, reliability issues,
and higher initial cost outlays. There are also difficulties with connecting wind energy to the national energy grid: massive wind towers have to be connected to one another as well as to the grid, and the power they provide is variable and unpredictable. Many optimum locations for generating wind power are far removed from the electrical grid infrastructure and therefore have high connectivity costs.

The good news is that over the last 20 years, wind turbines have become more reliable thanks to upgraded features (i.e., variable-speed functionality) which allow the turbines to convert wind to energy at different speeds.

Global Wind Energy Capacity in 2005: 59GW

Global Wind Energy Capacity in 2006: 74GW

US Wind electricity consumption in 2005: 17,810 GWh

US Wind Energy Capacity in 2005: 9.2GW

US Wind Energy Capacity in 2006: 11.6GW

US Wind Capacity Usage in 2006: 24% of 11,351 MW

Germany Wind Energy Capacity in 2005: 18.4GW

Germany Wind Energy Capacity in 2006: 20.6GW

Spain Wind Energy Capacity in 2005: 10GW

Spain Wind Energy Capacity in 2006: 11.6GW

Wind turbines are currently the largest provider of renewable energy on the world’s energy market. (Excluding hydropower, which has limited growth opportunities.) These wind turbines have outputs ranging from 100kW to several MW. Wind turbines operate (either into the wind or facing away from the wind) with a minimum wind speed range of 8 to 16 mph and a maximum speed of 55 mph; wind gusts greater than 55 mph can damage the turbines. Gears within the turbine shift the rotational speeds from a low of 30-60 RPM to a high of 1000-1800 RPM. This generates electricity at a level of 60 cycle AC, whereupon a transformer is used to transfer the energy to the grid. The reliability of turbines is improving due to the fact that active dampening reduces maintenance costs and downtime and thus increases useful life. On the flip side, however, there are high installation/building expenses, the cost of constructing and maintaining the turbines, the cost of leasing land for the wind towers, and the costs of transmitting and distributing the power they generate to the national grid.

Wind energy costs between $.04 to $.06/kWh--but it requires a higher initial investment, which brings the cost up to $.08/kWh. Wind turbines are, however, becoming more efficient (meaning less maintenance and fewer failures). As of January 2008, the largest installations of wind capacity in the U.S. are in Texas (4.3GW) and California (2.4GW). This is followed by Washington, Colorado, Minnesota, and Iowa, each of which averages 1.2GW. One GW typically provides power for 300,000 residences.

In 2005, wind power had a worldwide capacity of 59GW, with the U.S. representing 15.6% (or 9.2GW) of renewable energy production. Installations of wind turbines continue to grow in the U.S. and reached a domestic capacity of 16.8GW and a worldwide capacity of 94GW in 2007. This means an average 24%-increase per year over the last five years, totaling an additional capacity of 5GW and a cost of nearly $9 billion.

In 2007, Wind Capacity Figures in the US with a capacity of 1GW or more:

  1. Texas: 4356 MW (25.9% of the US Wind Power Generation)

  2. California: 2439 MW (14.5% of the US Wind Power Generation)

  3. Minnesota: 1299 MW (7.7% of the US Wind Power Generation)

  4. Iowa: 1273 MW (7.6% of the US Wind Power Generation)

  5. Washington: 1163 MW (6.9% of the US Wind Power Generation)

  6. Colorado: 1067 MW (6.3% of the US Wind Power Generation)

As of mid-2008, the U.S. was generating 19.5GW with wind power. (Germany came in higher with a figure of 23GW). Clipper Windpower and BP Alternative Energy are working on installing a 5GW-capacity wind farm in South Dakota.

PICKENS WIND FARM: T. Boone Pickens is planning a 4GW-capacity wind farm in Texas. This farm will have a purchase price of $10 billion and will include 2,700 turbines. To make this a reality, a 250-mile transmission line may also have to be installed. It’s estimated that a 10%-energy buffer will be needed to guarantee a constant flow of energy—that is, to counteract potential blackouts that could occur when there isn’t enough energy in the line. This buffer is not included in the total costs since the system is still dependent on coal and nuclear energy as the baseline of energy—the wind would be secondary.

PICKENS WIND FARM UPDATE: Mr. Pickens recently abandoned his plans due to the drastic drop in the price of oil. This decrease made executing his original plans potentially unfeasible (at least, for the near future). Petroleum-generated energy only accounts for 3% of the net power generated in the U.S. The fluctuation in oil prices does have a secondary effect on coal-fired power plants—coal is more expensive when oil prices rise because the fuel costs for operating mining equipment and transporting coal rise in tandem. Conversely, when oil prices drop, so does the price of coal-generated power.


Abb Ltd.





TPI Composites

LM Glasfiber


Molded Fiberglass

Hendricks Industries

PPG Industries

American Superconductor


Clipper Windpower

Atlantic Wind and Solar Inc.

Horizon Wind Energy

Acciona SA

General Electric (GE)

Mesa Power


Trinity Structural Towers

Tower Tech


Jason Fredette, American Superconductor

Bob Gates, VP of Operations, Clipper Windpower

Gabriel Alonso, Chief Development Officer, Horizon Wind Energy

Stan Calvert, U.S. Energy Department

T.Boone Pickens

David Murdock

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City

WIND POWER Providers

TXU Energy

Iberdrola SA

WIND ENERGY Associations

American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)

American Wind-Wildlife Institute

National Wind Coordinating Collaborative

Bats & Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC)

WIND ENERGY Labs & Government Organizations

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission



The Big Idea
The Mission

Global Implications

Change in Public Opinion
Filling the Void
Electrical Distribution
U.S. Electricity Production
Coal Power Plants
Nuclear Power Plants
Natural Gas Power Plants
Petroleum Power Plants

Electrical Energy Pollution
Global Electricity Demand
Global Population Affects

Wind Power
Solar Thermal Power
Solar Cell Power
Geothermal Power
Hydroelectric Power
Ocean Power
Biomass Power

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