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CenterPoint Energy, Inc. Message Board

  • lewis_whokeyser lewis_whokeyser Mar 23, 2001 11:14 PM Flag

    Economics of Wind Power

    They even talk about using wind power to create hydro power!

    "Wind Power: Maybe This Time"
    Economist (03/10/01) Vol. 358, No. 8212, P. 30
    Wind power has had a history full of good intentions but little action,
    mainly because wind power has not been able to compete economically or in
    terms of reliability with fossil fuel-generated electricity. However,
    California's continuing energy crisis, sky-high natural gas prices, and the
    major technological advances wind power has made over the past 20 years, may
    grant wind power a more competitive advantage. Among the inroads wind power
    has made is the fact that it now costs $1.3 million--about one-twentieth
    what it did in the 1980s--to set up a large turbine. Furthermore, these
    turbines are 120 times more powerful than previous models. Not only is the
    price of erecting a turbine reasonable, but the time it takes to set one up,
    which can be less than a year, compares very favorably to the generally
    five-year process of constructing a new-gas fired plant, or the interminable
    process of building a hydro plant. Today's turbines are also more reliable
    than their predecessors, working about 98 percent of the time. In addition,
    because the blades of new turbines tend to be much longer than those of
    their predecessors, and rotate much more slowly, they are not as big a
    threat to birds, according to EPRI's Chuck McGowin. With all these
    improvements, however, wind power still faces some obstacles, such as its
    utter dependence on the uncontrollable wind, which often tends to blow
    harder during the middle of the day when electricity demand is low, and
    softer in the evening when demand rises. While some companies have devised
    ways to get around this problem by using high wind power to pump water up a
    hill during low demand times, and then letting the water flow back down to
    run turbines and create electricity at high demand times, such processes are
    difficult and costly. (

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