11.3 Renewable Energy: The Status of Wind Energy at the Beginning of the New Decade

Friday, 14 January 2000: 9:00 AM
Edward F. McCarthy, Wind Economics & Technology, Inc., Martinez, CA

Public and, most importantly, utility acceptance of renewable energy technologies continues to accelerate as the new decade dawns. Installed wind energy capacity in the United States has grown from 10 megawatts (MW) in 1981 to nearly 2,000MW at the end of 1999. Renewable energy projects are spurred by the popularity of green-pricing programs and legislative action in some states requiring renewable portfolio standards (RPS) as part of utility restructuring.

Worldwide, wind energy capacity exceeds 10,000MW at the beginning of the new decade. The technology has grown from experimental designs to the predominance of the three-bladed, horizontal axis wind turbine, with a rated capacity of around 750kW, mounted on 40 meter to 60-meter tall monople towers. Projects in the U.S. completed in 1999 include those in California, Minnesota, Iowa, Oregon, and Texas.

Utility acceptance of the technology as part of the generation mix anticipates that wind energy forecasting will become a reality. Planners, schedulers, and brokers must have an understanding of when the energy will be delivered in order to optimize the utility generation system. An effective forecast program is already in-place for the ELSAM System in Denmark where wind-generated electricity accounts for nearly 20% of the installed capacity. Here in the U.S. efforts are just beginning on implementing and testing fore

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