Cost of Wind Energy to Decrease

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With Deepwater Wind’s Block Island energy farm in Rhode Island completed – all five turbines of it – it’s not surprising to learn that the cost of wind power, just like that of solar, is going to decline in coming years, according to industry experts. Prachi Patel reports for Conservation Magazine:

Wind energy is soaring around the world thanks to technology advances and energy policies that have reduced its cost. And things are only going to get better with prices dropping substantially by mid-century, according to a survey of 163 of the world’s leading wind energy experts. The results, published in the journal Nature Energysuggest that the cost of electricity from wind could drop by 24–30 percent by 2030 relative to 2014 prices, and by 35–41 percent by 2050.

The key driver of this price drop? Bigger, more efficient turbines, according to the experts. Taller turbines with larger rotors make it possible for turbines to better harness stronger winds, generating more power.

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Rhode Island’s Offshore Wind Turbines Completed

One of five turbines that make up the Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in the United States, off the Rhode Island coast. Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

Less than a month ago we shared the story in WIRED about the Block Island Deepwater Wind farm, and now, construction is finished! That may seem like trivial news to Europeans with coastline who have been enjoying offshore wind power for years now, but given that this is the first project of its kind in the US, it’s an exciting sign of progress to come in renewables for a nation with one of the largest carbon footprints. Justin Gillis reports for the New York Times:

BLOCK ISLAND, R.I. — The towering machines stand a few miles from shore, in a precise line across the seafloor, as rigid in the ocean breeze as sailors reporting for duty.

The blades are locked in place for now, but sometime in October, they will be turned loose to capture the power of the wind. And then, after weeks of testing and fine-tuning, America’s first offshore wind farm will begin pumping power into the New England electric grid.

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The Wind Lens

After the earthquake in Japan earlier this year, critics of nuclear energy are clamoring for the retreat to the ‘safe’ and ‘reliable’ fossil fuels so commonplace of this age – the fossil fuels which are rapidly depleting due to the glut and the delusion of surplus of today’s culture. Not enough critics of the world’s energy policies are on what we at Raxa Collective consider to be the ‘right side’ of the argument – the one keeping the environment clean and safe. Nuclear energy is perhaps cleaner than burning fossil fuels for electricity, but even the slim chances of a catastrophe like Japan’s are enough to sell the public back to the gas-guzzling camp. But who is fighting for the third choice? The safe, the clean, the green – wind and solar power, the still-in-development responsible option

for civic-minded citizens wanting to lower their carbon footprint.
As explained in the link above, Japan’s Kyushu University is currently researching the most efficient form of harnessing wind power, and is developing a simple and cost-effective solution to the problems posed by the widely used ‘tri-blade” wind turbines of today. The main issue at hand is that the common turbine’s blades are too heavy (which is the case because lightweight materials are too weak), and more wind energy is necessary to spin the turbine, producing less energy than the potential. Kyushu University’s solution? The Wind Lens – a simple but ingenious addition to either existing or modified turbine designs which can double (or even triple) the energy output of the devices. The mechanism, in essence a ring around the turbine’s blades, acts in respect to wind much the same way a magnifying glass does to light – it takes the existing wind power, and thanks to the physics of pressure, concentrates the energy in such a way that the wind is forced through the tunnel at a significantly increased speed, resulting in a great increase in energy output. Environmentalists, intellectuals, and a few key organizations. Also, the Japanese.  Continue reading