News roundup: Wind power grows in 2014, a 100 percent renewable town, U.S. offshore makes waves

7 March 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

The weekend is upon us, and we have great news of wind power’s growth going into 2014, an Oregon town boosts its clean energy image, and U.S. offshore wind’s growing potential.

In Iowa and South Dakota, wind power is providing more than a quarter of the electricity needed to keep the lights on for consumers:

  • According to the latest numbers from the Energy Information Administration at the Department of Energy, wind power is the fifth largest electricity source in the U.S., and accounts for nearly one-third of all new electricity capacity created over the last five years. In Iowa and South Dakota, more than one-quarter of electricity is sourced from instate wind turbines.
  • “Wind energy continues to make inroads as a major contributor to the US power mix,” Elizabeth Salerno, vice president of data analysis for the American Wind Energy Association, told CleanTechnica. “The electricity generated by American wind power has more than tripled since 2008 not only due to significant growth in new wind projects but also technology innovation leading to more productive wind turbines.”
  • Earlier this week, President Obama revealed his 2015 budget proposal, which included millions of dollars in renewable energy investments. The president and his administration have regularly pledged their commitment to growing wind energy technology via economic incentives and research grants.

Beaverton, Oregon, has something to be proud of: It’s the first town in the state to be powered entirely by renewable energy sources:

  • Beaverton officials revealed this week that the city now collects 100 percent of its energy from wind power sources. As such, it has become the only city in the state that procures all of its power, for civic operations, from Portland General Electric Co.’s renewable energy program.
  • PGE, in turn, said Beaverton has attained the utility’s “Platinum Clean Wind” ranking, a coveted level.
  • "By supporting these renewable energy sources since 2007, Beaverton continues to contribute to a bright, sustainable energy future for Oregon," said Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle. "This is part of our sustainability strategy to get power through PGE's green power program and on-site solar generation. We understand the importance of investing in green power to preserve the high-quality of life our community enjoys."

Floating turbine technology is making waves here in the U.S., enabling offshore wind power to take advantage of the breeze as far as 20 miles out to sea:

  • Over 4,000,000 MW is equal to over 4,000 GW, and over 4,000 GW is equal to more than four times the generating capacity of all U.S. electric power plants. That's all available offshore -- within 50 nautical miles of the coast -- and the U.S. Department of the Interior recently took a step toward realizing some of this potential.
  • Earlier in February, the Department of the Interior granted approval to a Seattle-based company, Principle Power, which developed a ballast system that buoys wind turbines for a novel project. Secured by anchors, the turbines are able to be located as far away as 20 miles offshore. The planned 30 MW floating wind farm has an estimated cost of $200 million. Five Siemens 6 MW turbines will be located about 15 miles off the Oregon coast. Connected by underwater cable, the turbines are expected to provide power to the grid by 2017.
  • For a country that has no installed offshore wind capacity, it may seem overreaching to consider the development of floating wind turbines, but there are a number of advantages. For one, since the turbines do not have to be bolted to the seabed, they are able to be installed in locations where depth is not an issue, reducing significant installation costs. Habib Dhager, director of the University of Maine's Advanced Structures & Composites Center, is leading a project using a 12 MW turbine located off the Maine coast. Arguing for the advantages of floating turbines, Dhager says that doing away with the need to rent jack-up barges and cranes will save companies tens of millions of dollars, as the final assembly of the turbines occurs onshore.

Be sure check out this week’s other news roundups:

Sources:

Brooks Hays, “Wind power continues to grow as source of American electricity.” UPI. 6 March 2014.

Andy Giegerich, “Beaverton becomes first Oregon city powered entirely by renewable energy.” Sustainable Business Oregon. 6 March 2014.

Scott Levine, “The Wind Industry Is Floating Away, and It's for the Best.” The Motley Fool. 6 March 2014.