The US wind power industry is facing huge problems that have led analysts to forecast a 60% drop in installations this year. This will be the first year since 2004 that the industry will not grow. The main reason for this set back is that we have nearly run out of high wind areas with easy access to transmission. This combined with extremely low prices for natural gas have led the industry back to the drawing board.
(Reuters) – General Electric Co said on Monday it was tapped to sell wind turbines for what is expected to be the first freshwater wind farm in the United States, planned for Lake Erie in the American Midwest.
The largest U.S. conglomerate will initially provide five four-megawatt turbines to the planned wind farm, which is expected to begin operation in late 2012 and would be capable of producing enough electricity to meet the needs of 16,000 typical American homes.
The wind farm is scheduled to be built off the shores of Cleveland, Ohio, and its developers — the nonprofit Lake Erie Energy Development Corp — have a long-term goal of building it out to have a capacity of producing 1,000 megawatts of electricity by 2020.
Yesterday’s big announcement by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar heralded what may be a new era for solar power, as thousands of acres of federal land in six Southwestern states were set aside to become a special federal solar energy zone designed to facilitate siting, construction and deployment of as much as 70,000 MW of new solar capacity.
Today, it is wind’s turn in the sun. The front page of the Boston Globe and local broadcast reports are abuzz with the news that Governor Deval Patrick’s administration has released a new plan to re-zone state coastal waters to better balance the need for marine ecological protections with the hope that Massachusetts can harvest more of its offshore wind as useful electricity.
In the absence of all of the plan’s details (a full presser was scheduled for the afternoon of July 1 at the New England Aquarium in Boston), the media has already shifted to score-keeping. There is at least one clear loser, as the plan deals a death blow to a particular Buzzards Bay proposal for 300 MW of offshore wind. The wind farm would sit in what is now a restricted area.