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Blowin' in the Wind -- Ohio's big time energy opportunity?

by a siegel Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:20:54 AM EST

Ohio's wind energy potential actually exceeds the electricity demand of the entire state of Ohio

Says Dennis Elliott of the Department of Energy's National Renewable Laboratory (NREL) as reported in a Beacon Journal article.

Ohio is proving the value of applying new research methods. Previously, Ohio was thought to have only marginal wind power conditions. But, NREL is now "revisiting some states like Ohio that earlier had been dismissed for having insufficient winds."


Now the total resources might exaggerate the real near term opportunity.  

Ohio could very easily support wind farms that could generate 20 percent of the state's electricity.

Okay, this actually is a serious understatement as this study only looked at land-based power.  You want to get a feel for the potential for northern Ohio from Lake Effects Wind, check out A Great Potential: The Great Lakes as a Regional Renewable Energy Source (warning: pdf).  NREL is currently studying the Great Lake opportunities, with a study due in about six months. Heads up -- basically all experts will agree that the lake winds are likely to be far better than the shore options.

To get a feel for what it means to be discussing lake and water effects wind versus land, check out this New York wind map (pdf). Check all that top quality wind in the Great Lakes and off Long Island. When are the wind turbines going up off Long Island, I ask you?

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Ohio has just 7 ... just 7!!! ... megawatts of installed wind energy capacity out of the 11,603 MW nationwide as of 31 December 2006.

This is from Lou Grinzo at Cost of Energy (note: bumped into this after starting this diary -- he/I cover much of the same ground):

This change in site assessments has been ongoing for some time. It seems hard to believe that it took us so long to figure out that there's a lot more wind 50 or 100 meters up in the air than there is near the ground, but at least we have that mystery of the universe solved and can put the information to work.

And in particular, I think that the Great Lakes will be the site of a considerable amount of wind development. I live near the south shore of Lake Ontario, and it's amazing how windy it is on the lake front even on days when just a couple of miles inland the air is calm.

The full-NREL report is available via Environment Ohio.  

"These maps demonstrate that a new, more energy independent future could be in store for Ohio," stated Amy Gomberg, the Environmental Advocate with Environment Ohio. "Even if we only tap into a small portion of our wind potential we could generate at least 10-20% of Ohio's electricity from wind, powering millions of Ohio homes and realizing significant environmental and economic benefits."

From Dennis Elliott, NREL's statement:

Using the projected energy sales estimates for 2020, if Ohio were to take advantage of only 20% the state's windy land areas the state could install about 13,200 MW of wind capacity
In other words, Ohio could have more wind energy installed by 2020 than the entire United States does today.

Let us remember that wind and other renewable energy projects have many benefits ... improving economies one of them.  As per Environment Ohio:

"Wind energy is an untapped economic boon for Ohio.  Ohioans spend approximately $24 billion annually on imported energy, but capturing Ohio's wind energy could keep those dollars flowing within our own local communities," stated Richard Stuebi, BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation.   "Furthermore, independent studies have estimated that tens of thousands of jobs could be created in Ohio to manufacture wind-related equipment, although this employment potential is much more likely to be realized if there's also a substantial local market in Ohio for installing wind turbines.  The new NREL wind maps show that a very large potential for Ohio-based wind energy does in fact exist, and this will encourage both wind developers and manufacturers to explore Ohio more vigorously."

While we want to take actions to Energize America -- and there is much that can be done now -- one thing this highlights is the importnace of reinvigorating multiple levels of our research programs related to energy. The United States (and the world) need ever-improving wind maps to facilitate better exploitation of wind patterns for energy production.  By moving testing to the height of new wind turbines (100+ meters), NREL discovered that Ohio had tremendous wind resources.  

Wind power is growing at a 25+% rate in the United States, year-in, year-out.  Instituting Renewable Portfolio Standards, maintaining the Production Tax Credit, and investing in wind turbine facilities will all help keep this going. So will funding programs like this NREL research effort to know as much as possible, as soon as possible, about where wind makes the most sense.  And, this new information suggests that total US wind resource estimates (unlike oil reserves) likely have nowhere to go but up.  This also might be that there is a real chance that, as better research and measurement is done, there won't simply be a calibration of the world's wind resources -- but a ratcheting up to much greater opportunities for using wind as an energy source. That is, to put it simply, good news for those of us hoping for a sustainable and prosperous energy future.

In any event, the power for tomorrow's Ohioans is, literally, Blowin' in the Wind ...

Ask yourself:  Are you doing your part?

NOTES

ENERGIZE AMERICA

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Will welcome the comments from Jerome and others who know wind far better than I.  It does seem, however, that improved data collection and analysis could help continue the rapid penetration of wind penetration globally. And, as per Ohio, open up new opportunities as we learn more about wind resources.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:22:33 AM EST
Perhaps you (or Jerome) might want to comment on this story:

Alberta turns to natural gas after wind lessens reliability

Alberta power utility Enmax Corp. said yesterday it is building a huge new power station in Southern Alberta fired with natural gas, partly to help boost the provincial grid's reliability after Alberta's aggressive expansion into wind energy made it vulnerable to power disruption.


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape
by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 10:14:14 AM EST
Couple things, which is first blush:

  1.  The reserve plant seems oversized.

  2. This is a real issue -- which is storage for intermittency. Looks like the expansion was not well integrated with the reality that wind is not 24/7, 350 days / year (all systems go down for maintenance). Nor is wind 100% predictable. Thus, need backup/complementary/storage systems.  Seems like they did not do an integrated development.

  3. There are many current options for storage, but few (other than hydro) are really that great on large scale. This is an arena meriting research, development, testing, further investigation.

  4. There's a good chance (cross our fingers) that this natural gas plant will be an albatross a few years from now, as other storage/such paths are developed such that it is no longer required and the rising costs of post-peak NG make it the highest cost electricity.  Problem is: ratepayers will be stuck with paying for it, which reduces resources available for pursuing GHG-free options.


Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:05:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't there a design, for wind powered energy plants, that consists (basically) of a whacking huge air pressure energy reserve?  IIRC, excess power is channeled into pumps that increase the air pressure inside a tank.  The potential is then used to drive the turbines during low/no wind.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:11:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to do much good.  

I know those tiny compressed air cars have fairly small tanks, but they operate at very high pressure.  Much easier to build a small strong tank than a huge one.

People are looking at large scale battery systems, giant flywheels etc.  but the old reliable is pumping water uphill for later use.  

by HiD on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 05:35:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are, as I understand it, functioning versions of this.

There are also potentials for constructing versions of hydro facilities ...

Could use wind to make hydrogen (already occurring in limited cases) ... flywheel storage ... etc ...

Lots of potential storage options ... challenge is to move from the potential to cost-effective large-scale implementation.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 11:57:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, it was not mineral coal that I was talking about in my mischieviously titled Clean Coal for Energy Independence, it was biomass charcoal.

The idea was to have a readily stored renewable power source that can be brought online to fill in for lulls in renewable power sources with variable availability.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:09:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also blogged, with a big hat tip to A Siegel, in Ohio.

I can't believe this was in the Canadian Bacon Journal and my brother did not tell me ... I had to hear it on the internets.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:03:52 PM EST
Thanks for the tip ...

I don't send enough your way for your extremely high quality, thoughtful, and insightful work.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:04:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ohio is a prime market for green energies.  

There are technical schools across the state and an educated workforce that is hungry for decent jobs.

Ohio is notorious for polluting the upper NE regions of the US and Canada, but windmill and green power can alter that.  These windmills are a beautiful sight to see. And, IMO, coordinate well with the surrounding region and the Great Lakes.

by GeorgeSand on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 04:46:33 PM EST
Agreed that Ohio is prime territory ... including for the potential for constructing wind turbines on the north coast, by the Great Lakes.


Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:05:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And north of the north coast.

Note that that diary contained the prior wind map, which showed much fewer 7m/s locations than the updated wind map does.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 02:54:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
siegal, very good diary! Excellent.
You have given us almost too much to work with.

I do have a couple of points:
1. Ohio's wind energy potential actually exceeds the electricity demand of the entire state of Ohio
It always seems like a no brainer, that there is so much potential energy all around us, for example: How much energy does a hurricane release?

  1. The article that Robert posted: Alberta turns to natural gas after wind lessens reliability, brought up some important points. One being that we need to create more energy diversity than worry about one source suiting all our needs.

  2. One of my favorite bloggers on the environment wrote the post entitled: Random Nature #119. I know not very thrilling title but has a lot of good information on this subject.

  3. As far as putting windmills on the Great Lakes, I believe it will face the same problems as Nantucket sound wind mills. Bodies of water are usually "the commons" and as such there will always be one party or another that will loose out on its free lunch.

In conclusion, I like all the good news and information that is coming out. As I read your post (a siegel) and Rogue Pundits, I have the feeling that a lot of projects on renewable energy sources are more 'feel good' moves than actually finding the best sources of energy in the most efficient method.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:41:23 PM EST
There is one difference, though, between Lake Erie and Nantucket, which is that there are a lot of people, including small business owners with investments in various faltering urban and small town economies, that are going to say, "View? Shmiew!" if it means jobs and expanded economic activity.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 09:04:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if it means jobs and expanded economic activity.

Unfortunately the jobs appear to be temporary (for the life of the installation) and most of the profits from the development get hoovered out of the community to the carpet-bagger developers and the Wall Streeters who finance them.

In the US the community probably doesn't even get the new community bus shelter the developers toss them over here in the UK for not resisting too hard.

What's needed is a "Community Energy Partnership" development model that keeps the turbine in community ownership and pays a community dividend in perpetuity in energy or sales proceeds from energy.

It's not too hard use an LLC to achieve that result.

 

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:57:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The real jobs don't come from the profits in any event, they come from the costs. The costs of manufacturing the windplants, the costs of installing them, the costs of maintaining them.

First, if Ohio rolls out, first, 20% of its current electricity consumption, and then proceeds to go offshore and starts exporting power, the "installation phase" is by no means temporary. It may be temporary for any given location, but its an ongoing economic stimulus in the state.

Second, the ongoing impact will be a greater share of consumption spending by Ohions remaining in the state.

Now, certainly a state-sponsored financing system that provides community financial dividends, over and above financing costs, will boost that further. But we are not going to get that state-sponsored financing system by trying to minimize the overall job creating potential of the windplants themselves ... to get that, we need to point out the full job creating potential of the windplants themselves, and then point out how it can be leveraged still further with public ownership of the wind generators.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 02:51:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  • for the great link
  • for the thoughts
  • for the nice words

Re Cape Wind ... the NIMBYites are horribly counter-productive. But, that is in 'nature reserve' type areas rather than off industrial areas and cities.  It is a different coastline.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:00:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "energy potential" refers to exploitable with today's technology ... hurricanes, well, hard to capture and store.

And, absolutely agree that a holistic approach is required.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:02:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that this both an excellent and problemmatic discussion.

  • Wind never provide a majority of electricity ... if storage issues are 'solved', that changes as a potential.  Also, if there is a real, high-quality, national grid, can balance wind across large geographic areas. But, the more important point is that we should have diversified sources -- there is no Silver Bullet solution, just lots of Silver BBs.

  • Wind at 1% of US electricity: Absolutely. But it is growing by 25+% a year, at an accelerating rate (not in percentage, but in total installed). If we can maintain that momentum, it is in the 15-20% range by 2020 ...

And, so on ...

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Sun Apr 22nd, 2007 at 12:08:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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