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Archive for March 2nd, 2008

antique-windmill-effect.jpg Well, the wind is blowing right now at 30 mph and it is annoying and cold. Hopefully the wind farms are online and generating electricity. One of the problems with the establishing a wind farm is being able to sell the electricity generated and to get it from the wind turbine to the consumer. This takes transmission lines and that is why we see the construction going on now in Southwestern Minnesota. Xcel Energy has this to say about their Southwest Minnesota Transmission Project:

     In the case of Southwestern Minnesota, improved transmission lines are needed to support the area’s growing electricity generation industry — to get the area’s newest “crop to market.” Currently there are about 450 wind turbines along the Buffalo Ridge in Southwestern Minnesota, representing nearly 300 megawatts of generation capacity. And there’s the potential to more than double the current wind power output from this region over the next 10 years. However, the power lines carrying this electricity were designed and built decades ago and are at their limit. Xcel Energy will be investing over $160 million in transmission improvements to support the development of additional wind power and other electric generation in Southwestern Minnesota.

Another problem associated with “farming the wind” is that sometimes the wind doesn’t blow. Xcel recently announced that it will test storing the energy in batteries. TwinCities.Com reports Xcel to use massive batteries to store wind-generated power:

The problem with electricity generated from wind turbines is, the power can fluctuate. Xcel Energy says it’s got a way to even out the flow — an 80-ton battery the size of two semi-trailers.

The Minneapolis-based utility said Thursday that it will begin testing a sodium-sulfur battery being used in Japan to even out the flow of electricity between windy days and nonwindy days.

Xcel plans to put 20 50-kilowatt batteries in Luverne, Minn., about 30 miles east of Sioux Falls, S.D., this spring and connect them to an 11-megawatt wind farm owned by Minwind Energy. The batteries are expected to go online in October.

When the wind is blowing, the batteries will charge, and when the wind diminishes, the batteries — which can discharge one megawatt of power — will supplement the flow of electricity to Xcel.  Read the rest here.

I guess we will have to wait and see how well that works. I do wonder how you dispose of an 80 ton battery or does it just keep on going and going and going.

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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minwind-bc.jpg 

Minnesota’s 1st CD Congressman Tim Walz(D) has been working hard in Washington D.C. on energy issues and recently issued a press release about the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008, H.R. 5351. Ollie Ox over at Bluestem Prairie covers it in detail here.

Minnesota Central looks at the tax and job creation implications in his post: Vote 51: Minnesota Jobs at stake while Congress chooses whose Tax Break to Extend.

Meanwhile, here in SW Minnesota local folks are working hard to prove that renewable and alternative energy is real and viable. Wind turbines are popping up and generating electricity and income due to a cooperative effort among local farmers and community members. Minwind LLC of Luverne, with over 300 members, has 11 turbines and plans to build more. Many of these people were instrumental in building the ethanol plant in Luverne owned by AgriEnergy LLC. The November/December 2007 issue of Rural Cooperatives published by the USDA highlights the Minwind project. New transmission lines are currently being constructed along I-90, creating good paying jobs.

 Here is a short (37 sec.) slide show

 

and since the title of this post is a Dylan tune here is a video of him performing in 1963. Enjoy!

 

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