Wind represents both an opportunity and a challenge. As a renewable resource, it is growing rapidly; nearly 10,000 MW installed new capacity in the United States in 2009. Many of the desirable areas for wind are not located near the major load centers; and the fragmentation of the US transmission infrastructure does not ease the burden of moving power out of those regions with the best resources (the divisions in Fig. 10.8 are indicative of some of the limitations on moving power from one region to another). The ability to forecast wind (or weather) creates some additional uncertainty as to the reliability of the energy (or capacity) available from the wind resources.
We have made significant improvements in both reliability and scale for extraction of energy that could be considered essentially carbon free. Today's wind turbines are capable of peak outputs in the range of 2.3-3.0 MW, in contrast to the 100-500 kW scale wind turbines deployed some 20 years ago (Fig. 10.10 depicts a modern wind turbine design with a rotor diameter in excess of 100 m). While not as inexpensive as power from new gas-fired generation, it is one of the least expensive renewable sources (with levelized costs in the range of $100/MWh).
Fig. 10.10 2.3 MWe wind turbine renewable energy with no emission CO2 emissions
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