Google Invests in World's Largest Wind Farm
April 19, 2011 10:40 AM
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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
, which is the project developer, and
, an early investor and turbine manufacturer as well as an operations and maintenance supplier. Other investors include
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
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
4/19/2011 5:49:09 PM
Good find on the story; it's very telling of an inherent aspect of alternative energies, namely the difference in redundancy vs. traditional generation. For controlling load, power plants have multiple reactors that can run at multiple demand levels (with some levels more efficient than others). Conversely, solar/wind/hydro are subject to fickle weather patterns and need much greater redundancy to supply base load, with the side effect that, when times are good for power generation (like the story you mention), there's a large amount of infrastructure sitting around unused.
RE: onshore wind is deadly and doesnt make sense
4/20/2011 12:06:15 PM
fickle.. thy name is wind power
i have read reports on the true nature of wind power and its amazingly bad. Often people are told one main number, the average generating operational rate, usually around 20% of actual capacity.
whats not mentioned often is just how it actually flows out. the output varies so rapidly from moment to moment it makes it really difficult for the grid to adapt.
say you have a 100MW field of wind. at midnight the wind isnt blowing and you have near zero output. with the rising sun winds pick up and you have a good breeze for a couple hours giving you maybe a 50% output. suddenly the wind dies and your back to nothing. then a couple hours later you get strong winds and are suddenly producing your full 100MW. to keep the grid from overloading, other inputs have to be adjusted down. then suddenly again, the wind dies off and your back down to 15% output, and other inputs have to be spun back up.
so that 20% average output is not a nice smooth output like some try to make it appear, but a wild roller coaster ride of sudden peaks and long troughs. that why there has been talk of trying to interconnect large fields off the east coast all together first, then into the grid to try to overcome that. it helps, but not much.
at least with solar its peak is much more consistent and happens during peak usage. With wind a good chunk happens at night when its not needed and simply wasted.
but hey.. they are mainly there for the tax credits anyways. which countries like spain are finding unworkable and actively reducing because they can no longer afford all that "cheap green" energy like some seem to think it is.
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