Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The South Still Doesn’t Have Any Wind Farms — but That’s About to Change

How tall are wind turbines (Credit: iowaenergycenter.org) Click to Enlarge.
How can we make wind power work in the Southeastern U.S.?  By reaching higher up into the sky.  That’s the strategy Spanish energy developer Iberdrola took with a large-scale wind project in North Carolina that at one point looked like it would have to be nixed.

The project will be the first major wind farm in the South, and, according to The Associated Press, will bring power to 60,000 homes:

After a years-long regulatory process that once looked to have doomed the plan, Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman told The Associated Press that construction is to begin in about a month.

Right now, there’s not a spark of electricity generated from wind in nine states across the Southeast from Arkansas to Florida, according to data from the American Wind Energy Association, an industry trade group.

But taller towers and bigger turbines are unlocking new potential in the South, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, and the industry is already looking to invest.

And with the electricity system in the region undergoing a period of change as coal plants are phased out, some experts believe the door is open for renewables like wind.

Wind power, which already accounts for 5 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S., is getting increasingly affordable — and, because of new technologies like larger turbines, viable in regions where it wasn’t before.  Many utilities are eyeing wind and solar as alternatives to coal and even to natural gas, long celebrated by the energy industry as the cheapest thing around.  “We used to say some day solar and wind power would be competitive with conventional generation,” George Bilicic, an energy expert with the financial advisory firm Lazard, told the Financial Times last year.  “Well, now it is some day.”

Read more at The South Still Doesn’t Have Any Wind Farms — but That’s About to Change

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