Thursday, January 21, 2010

Study says wind power feasible but will require significant expansion, investment in power grid

A new study released by the U.S. Department of Energy says a reorganization of the power grid and a significant increase in costs could lead wind power to replace the coal and natural gas burnd to generate 30 percent of the electricity used in the eastern two-thirds of the country. Even after that large investment, the increased wind power would only modestly reduce carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming, Matthew L. Wald of The New York Times reports. The chief takeaway from the report, Wald writes, is "wind energy is 'technically feasible' but will require significant expansion of the power grid."

David Corbus, a senior engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which supervised the study, told Wald that investment would equal about $93 billion in today’s dollars, but that sum, was "really, really small compared to other major costs" in the power system. The study did not address overcoming current political barriers to building more power lines for increased transmission or finding sights for supplying 10 times the current level of generating capacity.

As grid connections are improved current problems associated with wasted wind energy during peak production periods and the amount of backup generation needed for low production periods would be decreased, Wald reports. The study covered the Eastern Interconnection, about 70 percent of the country's population stretching from Halifax to New Orleans and Miami to Fargo, N.D. The report predicted such an investment would equal about a 4.5 percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions. The authors did warn that without added renewable energy investments those levels will continue to rise. (Read more)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

ofe of the problems with our grid is the lack of storage for excess generation. there are few attempts being made to find new forms of conversion and even water storage has been overlooked. under ground water heating could reduce steam conversion in present day generators,as an example. municipalities could and should become profit producers and take future design away from purely short term power makers.