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Big Fast Wind Projects - Get 'em While You Can...

by nb41 Mon Jul 30th, 2012 at 03:45:39 AM EST

CaneyRiver

From Emporia State University a view of some of the 111 1.8 MW Vestas V90 wind turbines, with a distant view of an older wind farm in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

front-paged by afew


Kansas is now one of the central infection points of the "Teabagger" epidemic that have swept across our country [USA] starting a couple of years ago (this plague seems to have peaked, though the consequences live on...). They are totally Republican dominated; when doctors who provide abortions get assassinated so many leader seems to encourage this behavior or at least spend all their time condeming abortion and not murder. And they have swallowed the Faux News lines about the Confidence Fairy and economics (if you just give rich people more money, the economy will grow, and if you keep cutting money to the poor and middle class from government collected taxes, good times will be had for all....). Since most people are not rich and yet democracy is supposedly our form of government, to elect their brand of Republicans, the majority of voters have to vote AGAINST their own economic interests, and yet this happens with the regularity of the sun coming up every morning. Actually, they believe in oil and natural gas (the Koch family started off in this state), and Kansas is (or was) a big natural gas producer. But, as per Republican dogma, most people don't think that Global Warming is occurring due to the combustion of fossil fuels, which especially pleases the oil and gas industry. Which is ironic, as the "high pressure dome" over the midwest this summer ("the bake") has been particularly devastating to agriculture and is also what the predicted effect of Global Warming WILL BE in the near future on a more regular basis as the CO2 content of the atmosphere keeps rising. But then, Teabaggers and facts go together as well as oil and water minus any surfactant... oh well, old news to anyone who has read or heard about the book "What's the Matter with Kansas"....

And yet, Kansas is a really windy state, and the Flint Hills is one of the windiest parts of this state. It is a ridge formed by gentle rise in altitude that is oriented (N-S direction) perpendicular to the prevailing winds (west to east). This state has the second largest wind potential of any state (450 GW using "regular" wind speed turbines at 100 meter tower heights) in the continental US, which is roughly equal to the ENTIRE amount of electricity used in this country. It has at least 8.4% of our country's onshore fast wind potential (by comparison NY State only has 19.7 GW of "regular wind" energy potential and just a sliver of Kansas' possible capacity). The numbers can be found here, where you can also see nifty colored wind speed maps.

So while their state's prairie and prime and quite productive agricultural lands are devolving to deserts via global warming, they've got the cure for pollution sourced electricity in the air moving across the land. You could run the entire country, electrically speaking, on Kansas winds, though if they were smart, that wind resource could be a massive economic engine. For example, instead of making ammonia from natural gas or petroleum coke (as is done in Coffeeville), wind and water could make hydrogen and oxygen; then nitrogen from the air could be used to make ammonia, which is needed for about half of the protein grown in this country. For starts...

Well, as it turns out, this wind farm was supposed to be banned, as the Flint Hills (a big oil and gas section of the state) is home to some of the last stretches of prairie grass in the state. Of course, wind turbines go just fine with prairie grass, but evidently not with prairie palaces (trophy homes put up by rich people who think they own the view). The present Governor is not necessarily a "friend of wind" though there is a lot of money to be made in the wind biz in Kansas. And Republicans do love their money.... as well as corporations making money form natural resources....

The Caney wind farm is about 200 MW in capacity, and probably cost around $400 million to build. The turbines were made in Colorado in one of the world's larger wind turbine manufacturing facilities. It is being developed/mostly owned by Enel, one of Italy's largest companies, worth roughly $US 168 billion, give or take a few gigabucks (Enel also owns the 6.6 MW Whethersfield 1 project, which is NY's first one, too). Enel is partly owned by the government of Italy (in total, a bit over 30%), and is Europe's second biggest non-bank company by market capitalization. They are also a major player in oil and gas as well as electricity generation and distribution. This project was partly helped by a Section 1603 grant of $99 million, as well as some partners in the banking and finance biz (JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and Met Life), and that is what such companies are SUPPOSED TO DO. The financing behind this project is byzantine to say the least but that is how to comply with US Law and obtain the benefits of the financial incentives that make this project possible.

As for the winds.... they would average at least 8 m/s at hub height, and probably more. According to Enel's website, annual production is expected to be 750 GWh/year, or an average power output of about 86 MW, for a net efficiency of 42.8% (after including array losses, too) - this is almost 80% greater than what NY wind farms can put out. But, sometimes nature endows resources in strange ways....

Anyway, there will be no more of this kind of development in the Flint Hills if Governor Brownback has his way. And due to the expiration of the Federal incentives (especially the MACRS rapid depreciation and the Section 1603 grant) on Dec 31, 2012, he will get his wish. But that formerly lush land seems more like a desert every day, so if he wants agriculture to remain viable, he's going to have to start paying attention to climate forecasts, and then do something about the facts they provide. Tough call, religious fanatical-like adherence to a belief system that also used to be enormously financially rewarding for a lot of his friends, or heeding the science that gives future weather predictions with increasing accuracy in what used to be considered part of the breadbasket of America.

And meanwhile, the wind keeps on blowing over an area turning into a new desert in North America. Oops, that's a solar resource in the making, though that will never rival Kansas wind  energy in terms of the cost of production....

Nb41

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Brilliant rant.

Adding: and Kansas is only one of the high wind Great Plains states. The wind resource runs from west Texas to North Dakota and into Canadia.

Luckily, Jehovah and her sisters have chosen Kansas as a test case to see if evangelicals will ever allow reality to intrude in their (do not evolve) brains.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 06:54:05 AM EST
I'm literally just back from a week in Kansas City and a couple of days with a wind developer whose management is interested in unconventional financing and funding options.

Excellent people.

I also gave a presentation to the Modern Monetary Theory crowd at UMKC and had a couple of days with community activists there.

All in all an excellent trip, apart from the weather which barely got below 100 degree F maxima all week.

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

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 09:51:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UMKC folks are great -espeially Bill Black....

Nb41

by nb41 on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 05:48:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did the ancestors of Kansas people come from England ? Similar nimbyism here

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 07:39:19 AM EST
Most common country of ancestry for most Kansas counties is Germany, excepting a couple of southwestern counties where it is Mexico.

Of course, that's not unusual, that's true for a majority of counties in a big stretch of the US (map) starting from central Pennsylvnia heading across Ohio; Michigan and Indiana; Wisconsin and Illinois; Minnesota, Iowa and northern Missouri; North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas; Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.


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 Jul 29th, 2012 at 08:42:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What, no Swedish-dominated counties but a bunch of Finnish and Norwegian ones!?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 02:27:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Swedish immigration to the US wasn't statistically significant.  Over the last 100 years secondary migration effects dispersed the 'clumping,' diffusing the population to insignificance.  

Demographically speaking.

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 03:35:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1.2 millions are insignificant perhaps, but larger then the number of Norwegians (800,000) or Finnish (389,000(unless I misread Finnish wikipedia)). Clumpers I guess, the lot of them.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 04:00:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Swedish American - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Historically Swedish Americans are concentrated in the Midwest, roughly in the area west and northwest of Chicago.

BruceMcF's was showing relative majorities. So it's just that in the areas where the most Swedish immigrants settled, there were even more German immigrants.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 05:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope. Its heavily influence by the countries that had large emigration outflows in the years immediately after the territory was opened for settlement.

And its pluralities ~ with 4.5m Norwegian Americans and 1.2m Swedish Americans, most counties with substantial Swedish-American populations would have even more Norwegian Americans.


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 Jul 29th, 2012 at 06:50:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wasn't my intention to hijack the thread with the nordic joke, but the relevant numbers are apparently 4.3 million Swedish-Americans (from 1.2 million immigrants) and 4.6 million Norwegian-Americans (from 0.8 million immigrants).

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jul 30th, 2012 at 12:29:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then the Norwegians cluster more.

I took those numbers from the Wikipedia machine, so its not surprising if the numbers were not on a consistent basis.

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 Mon Jul 30th, 2012 at 04:35:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... and what of the counties where largest ancestry is defined as "American"?

Special creation?

"Don't know"?

Mostly the mountain regions... Perhaps the answer to the ancestry question is "each other"...



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Jul 30th, 2012 at 05:31:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Its Census data, so if people in an area have a tendency to report "American", that's what the Census data reflects. AFAIR from research on different data sources, many of those are counties dominated by English, Scottish and Scots-Irish ancestry.

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 Mon Jul 30th, 2012 at 08:32:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This once again goes to show that "beauty" is a subjective term, and very much in the eye of the beholder. To some of us a landscape dotted with these sleek, elegant beauties is a lovely sight to see.
by sgr2 on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 08:52:35 AM EST
There's some discussion of this in Jerome's latest story on wind.

Also applies to Helen's comment above on Nimbyism.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 12:38:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Still, I predict that in a generation or so, wind turbines will be seen as belonging to rural landscape the same way old windmills have been.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 29th, 2012 at 12:56:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nit - MACRS doesn't expire, just the bonus depreciation for the first year.

Our government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to ensconce our 'energy policy' in the tax code.

-Me

by jam on Mon Jul 30th, 2012 at 11:49:23 AM EST


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