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Rick Needham (center) with partners Arielle Bertman and Matthew Stepka at the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm  (Source: The Official Google Blog)
Google has invested $100 million in the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Arlington, Oregon

Aside from running the successful Android operating system and the world's most popular search engine, Google has been making some environmentally conscious efforts as well. Just last week, the web giant invested $168 million in the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System located in the Mojave Desert in California.

Now, Google is investing $100 million in the Shepherds Flat Wind Farm in Arlington, Oregon. It will be joining this project with Caithness Energy, which is the project developer, and GE, an early investor and turbine manufacturer as well as an operations and maintenance supplier. Other investors include Tyr Energy and Sumitomo Corporation of America

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is still under construction, but is expected to be the largest wind farm in the world. Once completed, it will produce 845 megawatts of energy, which can power over 235,000 homes. 

"This project is exciting to us not only because of its size and scale, but also because it uses advanced technology," said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations for Google in The Official Google Blog. "This will be the first commercial wind farm in the U.S. to deploy, at scale, turbines that use permanent magnet generators - tech-speak for evolutionary turbine technology that will improve efficiency, reliability and grid connection capabilities. Though the technology has been installed outside the U.S., it's an important, incremental step in lowering the cost of wind energy over the long term in the U.S."

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is expected to help benefit Oregon economically, and will also help California meet its renewable energy goals. In addition, the electricity generated at the wind farm will be sold to Southern California Edison under "long term agreements." 

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm will be completed in 2012. 

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RE: onshore wind is deadly and doesnt make sense
By Solandri on 4/19/2011 3:42:04 PM , Rating: 4
So... do you still think that producing nuclear power is "clean and cheap"?

You need to normalize costs to unit of energy generated. It makes no sense compare the cost of something generating over 2600 TWh/yr (nuclear) to something generating 270 TWh/yr (wind) and 21 TWh/yr (solar) as if they were somehow equals. You need to scale up wind's current costs by a factor of 10, and solar's current costs by a factor of 125 before you can make a valid comparison.

I don't have manufacturing and disposal pollution costs for wind and solar handy because I don't make a hobby of disparaging promising technologies. But in terms of accident statistics, if you scale up wind power to the current level of electricity generation by nuclear, wind would kill as many people as Chernobyl every 10-12 years. Rooftop solar installation scaled up to current levels of nuclear power generation would kill as many people as Chernobyl every 3-4 years.

The calcs I've done also say for the same amount of energy generated, the construction costs for wind range from the same to twice as expensive as nuclear (roughly $5-$10 billion per GW average for a year).

We will be remembered as the generation that exchanged 70 years of "clean and cheap" electricity for 25,000 years of nuclear waste (not taking into consideration health hazards and nuclear disasters).

We will be remembered as the generation that created 25,000 years of nuclear waste by banning reprocessing. If we hadn't banned it, we could have reduced it to a couple hundred years in addition to eliminating about 90% of the mining needed to extract new uranium fuel.

If its the whole f*cking world you're worried about: going "cleaner" is the way to go.
Say wind farm, solar… whatever, but what's certainly true is that we have to continue working on cleaner and more efficient energy sources and ways to store it.

Unless the ITER program is successful... nuclear power is NOT the way to go.

Again, any definition of "cleaner" must be normalized to the same amount of energy generated. Since most people have little concept of what a MW or kWh is, let's put it in terms they can relate to. How much electricity does a typical U.S. home use in 30 years? The average U.S. home in 2009 consumed about 11,040 kWh/yr. So in 30 years it would use 330 MWh.

According to the EIA, a ton of coal yields about 2000 kWh of electricity. To power a typical U.S. home for 30 years with coal will take about 165 tons of coal. You'll see this is so high I'm not even gonna bother calculating the steel and concrete needed for the coal plant itself.

Commercial solar panels generate about 125 W/m^2 peak. Factor in night, weather, angle to the sun, and they have a capacity factor of about 15%. So on average you're getting about 20 W/m^2 throughout the year. I'm feeling generous so let's say this house is in the Southwest and you're getting a 20% capacity factor. 25 W/m^2. One year is 8766 hours, so to generate 11,040 kWh in the year would require 50 m^2 of solar panels. They typically have a 20-25 rated life, but let's give them 30. And ignore any battery requirements - pretend there's another power source (like nuclear) providing base load. The stats I'm finding online say with support structure, solar panels are about 16 kg/m^2, so 50 m^2 would 800 kg of trash after 30 years.

How about wind? A 1 MW wind turbine needs about 150 tons of steel and concrete. It operates at a 20%-25% capacity factor, but let's go with the higher 25%. So the average generation from the turbine will be 250 kW. Over a year, that's 2192 MWh/yr. A typical home uses 11 MWh/yr, so the single turbine will provide for about 200 homes. They have a rated life of 30 years (U.S. accounting uses 40 years, but the rest of the world uses 30 years before they're expected to need to be replaced). So after 30 years of wind electricity generation for your home, you're talking about 150/200 = 3/4 ton of trash = 750 kg. I'll make the same assumption about batteries as with solar.

How about nuclear? The U.S. generated about 800 TWh of electricity using nuclear in 2008, producing about 2000 tons of nuclear waste in the process. That's about 2.5 tons per TWh. So the 11 MWh of our typical home in 30 years results in the production of 0.000275 tons, or 25 grams of nuclear waste. That's about 1.3 cubic centimeters - about a quarter of a teaspoon. If we reprocessed, the waste would be about 1/10th that amount.

The plant itself would be about 250,000 tons of concrete and steel, but it provides enough energy for 1.25 million homes. Most nuclear plants will operate for more than 30 years, but just to keep it simple let's pretend it'll be decommissioned after 30 years. That's 0.2 tons of steel and concrete trash per home.

So to summarize, to power a typical home for 30 years:

Coal: 165 tons of waste pollution
Solar: 640 kg of trash
Wind: 750 kg of trash
Nuclear: 200 kg of trash, a quarter teaspoon of nuclear waste

So... which one do you think is cleanest?

By Solandri on 4/19/2011 3:52:45 PM , Rating: 2
Oops, had to run in the middle of that. Multiply the amount of nuclear waste by 30x, or about 0.75 kg.

By heffeque on 4/20/2011 6:26:32 AM , Rating: 1
"The calcs I've done also say for the same amount of energy generated, the construction costs for wind range from the same to twice as expensive as nuclear (roughly $5-$10 billion per GW average for a year)"

That's not the case in other countries. Must be that the US doesn't know how to build cheap and efficient wind plants.

Also... having to pay for 25,000 years of nuclear waste storing and maintaining "has" to be more expensive than having to pay for more wind, solar and fusion power, don't you think?

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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