California hits wind energy milestone: About 5 percent of power from wind

Feb 07, 2012 By Dana Hull

California now gets about 5 percent of its electricity from wind power, according to data released Tuesday by the California Wind Energy Association.

The majority of California's electricity - 42 percent - comes from natural gas, followed by nuclear power and . According to 2010 figures from the , wind made up 4.7 percent of the state's electricity mix and solar was 0.3 percent.

But in 2011, wind projects that generate 921 - enough electricity for more than 400,000 homes - were installed across the state, which the wind association says should put it above the long-sought-after 5 percent threshold. California has set an ambitious goal of getting 33 percent of its power from by 2020, and utilities are increasingly signing contracts for renewable projects.

"2011 was a banner year for wind generation in California," said Nancy Rader, executive director of CalWEA, based in Berkeley. "Wind has come a long way and is helping to drive California closer to reaching its goal of 33 percent renewable energy."

In California, the vast majority of are clustered in three regions: the Altamont Pass between Livermore and Tracy, Tehachapi near Bakersfield and the San Gorgonio Pass near Palm Springs. While solar panels are visible on homes across the state, massive tucked away in windy mountain passes that many Californians never see produce much more energy.

"California is one of the strongest wind markets in the nation," said Mark Tholke, vice president of Origination for EnXco, which has several wind projects in Solano County, which is southwest of Sacramento. "The has been quietly chugging along as the workhorse of renewable energy for the last several years."

NextEra, a Florida-based energy company that has several wind projects nationwide, is in the process of "repowering" hundreds of wind turbines along the Altamont Pass in eastern Alameda and Contra Costa counties, both near Oakland.

Nearly 2,000 wind turbines in the Altamont Pass are being replaced with about 100 huge state-of-the-art turbines that, at 430 feet, stand taller than the tallest coast redwood trees. Each of the new turbines, manufactured by Siemens, generates 2.3 megawatts of electricity. NextEra's repowering project will be done in three phases and is scheduled to be completed by 2015.

Other projects are in the pipeline, including Iberdrola Renewables plans for a 200 megawatt Tule Project for eastern San Diego County.

Much of the growth in wind power is because of the federal production , or PTC. The PTC gives a tax credit for electricity production from utility-scale wind turbines but is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2012. While several wind projects across the country should come online in 2012, developers have been reluctant to go forward with plans for 2013 and beyond over fears the credit will not be extended.

"Wind supports 400 manufacturing facilities in 43 states," said Ellen Carey of the American Association. "The production tax credit enjoys bipartisan support, and we have reason to be optimistic."

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Vendicar_Decarian
0.7 / 5 (46) Feb 07, 2012
Clearly wind based power generation is impossible.
Xbw
1.7 / 5 (12) Feb 07, 2012
Links/evidence Vendicar?

Also, I wonder if they factored in consumer owned solar panels and their contribution to the powergrid (their overall reduction of demand).
The most recent energy statistics I can find on their site are from 2010 which show 908GWh of energy generated by solar.
http://www.energy...wer.html

If you add in the power generated by consumer owned Solar http://www.gosola...nia.org/ (probably more in the range of 1000MW if you consider not all solar installed is currently producing), that increases renewable energy a bit (to about 14%). Slowly but surely.
AWaB
3 / 5 (10) Feb 07, 2012
Honest reporting would be helpful. The article should state, "there are enough windmills to create up to a maximum of 5% power for the state of California." Unfortunately, that would only happen when the wind is blowing at its most optimum speed AND all of the windmills are spinning. Good luck with that!
NotParker
Feb 07, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
NotParker
2.1 / 5 (16) Feb 07, 2012
Wind is contributing 190MW out of 27088MW right now.

http://www.caiso....tus.html

.7%

Woooo!
trekgeek1
2.6 / 5 (9) Feb 07, 2012
Yeah! Way less than 5%, stupid state for even trying to become more energy independent and responsible! Someone needs to tell them not to share any success until they are out of that pathetic transitional period between wasteful coal and oil to renewable.
Geez.
kochevnik
3.3 / 5 (12) Feb 07, 2012
Bird slaughtering waste of money.
You may feel different about avians when they kill 60% of humanity with their flu. /s
NotParker
1.3 / 5 (14) Feb 07, 2012
... between wasteful coal and oil to renewable. Geez.


Wind turbines waste capital that could be used on reliable inexpensive power like NG. Another nail in the coffin for California.

deepsand
2.8 / 5 (13) Feb 07, 2012
Does "NP" stand for "not present?"
rwinners
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2012
Wind turbines waste capital that could be used on reliable inexpensive power like NG. Another nail in the coffin for California

@not
Can you provide us with a capitalization rates data, in the form of charts to provide validity to your statement?
rwinners
5 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2012
I groan at the shortsightedness of so many people.

To change power supply streams is a very long term process.. well, unless you live in a cave. Then it is easy... bat quano, buffalo droppings or dead wood.
Solar is the way to go, from that long term perspective. The choices, between now and then, may slow or speed change in that direction. But that change will happen ... in that direction.

Modern civilizations
Buzzard Bait
3 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2012
While I am favor of solar and wind power, I've lived off grid using both for 10 years. I am one of the unlucky ones who has to look at the hundreds of huge blinking red lights that blight the otherwise dark night sky here in the West Antelope Valley CA. It's not really a pretty string of Xmas lights like you'd think. Residents here are carrying the burden of wind power and with hundreds more 400' turbines planned it's only going to get worse. Maybe it's time to put a couple in the back yards of San Francisco and LA so they can get the down side of wind not just the benefits. We get the down side of Alt Energy. But like you said "few Californians notice" so I guess we don't matter. We don't get any of the power being produced locally, it all goes elsewhere. Oh we are also getting about 20,000 acres of solar panels over the next 3 years too. When that highly concentrated I bet they reflect more heat and warm up the area around them. Time to turn up the AC and burn more Alt Energy.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.5 / 5 (39) Feb 07, 2012
"Wind is contributing 190MW out of 27088MW right now." - Parker Tard

And 5.5 percent of consumption at 4:30 AM.

More turbines will reduce the variability while increasing the percentage of renewable energy produced at the same time.

I would suggest that you consume less to make the transition easier for yourself.

You seem content to continue to stab yourself in the back.

Your loss. My gain.

It is interesting to note that California's average energy consumption is 19.6 KWh per person.

My personal electrical energy consumption is 7 Kwh.

djr
4.5 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2012
Vendicar is right - wind based power generation is impossible. Scotland is just an abberation http://www.greent...wealth/. London is just make believe http://cleantechn...bine-up/ The Chinese have no idea what they are talking about http://cleantechn...y-china/ I bet those 4 GW of wind off Mass. will never happen either http://www.wind-w...ineyard/ Thankfully despite the peanut gallery here - you aint stoppin this locomotive!!
kochevnik
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2012
I am one of the unlucky ones who has to look at the hundreds of huge blinking red lights that blight the otherwise dark night sky here in the West Antelope Valley CA.
Are you sure those are windmills and not just all the Palmdale meth heads lighting up? Anyway at least now there's light out there now so you're not walking into Josusha trees all night. IMHO expecting cool air in the Valley is like expecting warm beaches in Siberia. Actually with global warming we're more likely to get the latter.
Eikka
1 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2012

More turbines will reduce the variability while increasing the percentage of renewable energy produced at the same time.


If you spread them over a considerable area. To reduce the variability to half, you need to spread the windmills evenly over 500 by 500 miles.

The main problem here is, that producing 5% of your power on average means, that your wind power output swings chaotically between 0% and 20% of your total, with a tendency to remain close to 0% for 80% of the time, and close to 20% the rest of the time. Spreading the turbines over the entire state does little to remedy that.

In other words, having 5% wind power in your grid means that you have to have 20% of quickly adjustable generation capacity at standy, at all times. Typically that means that you can't use co-generation plants, you can't use coal, you can't use nuclear...

Save for hydro power, which there isn't a lot of, you have to actually use less efficient and more polluting means to pick up the slack.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2012
Wind is contributing 190MW out of 27088MW right now.

http://www.caiso....tus.html

.7%


5% of electricity. Not energy.

Even if it were 0.7% ... gotta start somewhere (Usually at 0% ).
That small percentage is still gained at only a fraction of the taxes that an equivalent fraction of electricity generation via coal or nuclear has cost you over the years.
Eikka
1 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2012

That small percentage is still gained at only a fraction of the taxes that an equivalent fraction of electricity generation via coal or nuclear has cost you over the years.


Are you sure about that? Wind energy tends to be many times more expensive than either of those, and all around the world hasn't been able to become economically viable without state subsidies.
kaasinees
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 08, 2012
Are you sure about that? Wind energy tends to be many times more expensive than either of those, and all around the world hasn't been able to become economically viable without state subsidies.

Coal and oil are heavily subsidized, whats your point?
Wind energy can reduce health costs, cleaning costs etc.
So in the end wind energy is actually cheaper. The subsidies are returned in reduced health risks. While coal and oil perpetuate the problem.

If you are going to compare costs of energies use the full equations don't leave out the mining, health, pollution etc costs.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2012
Are you sure about that?

I can give you the numbers for germany (and while the US number might look different I don't think they differ by orders of magnitude):

Total subsidies to date for coal 220bn Euros
Total subsidies to date for nuclear 180bn Euros
Total subsidies to date for all renewables combined: 29bn Euros
(Other sources are oil, and gas for which I couldn't find any numbers)

Total perecentage of electricity generated via coal: 43.5%
Total perecentage of electricity generated via nuclear 23.3%:
Total perecentage of electricity generated via renewables: 18.5%
(rest is oil, and gas)

Note that the subsidies are not reflected in your energy bill - but you still do pay them so they SHOULD count towards the cost of electricity per kWh.
kaasinees
3.3 / 5 (7) Feb 08, 2012
Total subsidies to date for coal 220bn Euros
Total subsidies to date for nuclear 180bn Euros
Total subsidies to date for all renewables combined: 29bn Euros
(Other sources are oil, and gas for which I couldn't find any numbers)

Add a % of health care costs, environmental damage costs, cleanup costs and a % invading countries to basically all fuel-based technologies and you get the picture while for renewable energy a few of these are negatives due to reducing other fuel-based techs.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2012
The point is that you don't even need to add all the ancillary costs (environmental cleanup costs, ancillary healthcare costs, strategic cost for ensuring availability, waste management, future cost increases due to declining supply, dependence on unstable regimes, etc. ) to show that renewables are a much better bang for the buck than the traditional energy sources.

It's not a matter of being an 'eco-nut'. It just makes economic sense.
djr
5 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2012
Eikka - said "your wind power output swings chaotically between 0% and 20% of your total, with a tendency to remain close to 0% for 80%" Do you have a source for these stats? Do you understand that demand varies wildly also? This means you have to have adjustable generation no matter what. We can manipulate demand - which is a major area of research at this point. If intermittency is the insurmountable problem you suggest - can u explain how Scotland can look at getting 100% of their electricity from renewables by 2020 - with a large portion coming from wind. Sure Scotland is a unique situation - but the point is that renewables are coming - the engineering problems are surmountable - and the peanut gallery can say what they want - history moves on.
kaasinees
3.2 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2012
The point is that you don't even need to add all the ancillary costs (environmental cleanup costs, ancillary healthcare costs, strategic cost for ensuring availability, waste management, future cost increases due to declining supply, dependence on unstable regimes, etc. ) to show that renewables are a much better bang for the buck than the traditional energy sources.

It's not a matter of being an 'eco-nut'. It just makes economic sense.

I know this very well, i just think we should make a more complete equation to get how much awesomeness the renenewables are over the traditionals.
Lets also factor in that it will create lots of jobs to maintain renewables, for wind energy mostly its production and recycling which adds greatly to the economic aspect.
If we dropped all subsidies and the current energy industry renewables would still be the best and first choice.
NotParker
1.7 / 5 (11) Feb 08, 2012
"Over the past decade, Germany has spent over 100 billion subsidizing solar energy. "

http://reason.com...0-billio

NotParker
1.5 / 5 (11) Feb 08, 2012
http://www.caiso....tus.html

Current System Demand: 26553 MW
Wind Power: 200MW

.75%
NotParker
1 / 5 (8) Feb 08, 2012
"In April 2011, the UKs total installed wind power capacity was 5,204 MW.

As of 3.30pm this afternoon, with the temperature around the country varying between 2 degrees and 6 degrees celsius and most people at home using power to stay warm, those wind turbines were delivering less than 11% of their stated capacity, contributing a mere 1.3% of the UKs energy supply.

Is there any more clear a demonstration of the folly of the governments plans to spend billions of pounds adding more wind capacity, when it cannot come close to replacing the amount of energy generated by coal-fired and nuclear power plant that will be decommissioned?"

http://autonomous...he-wind/
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2012
Over the past decade, Germany has spent over 100 billion subsidizing solar energy.

That's a bit of a misconception as this includes all past AND future investments planned.

By the time these investments are played out we'll be at 38% electricity from renewables. Still a 2:1 better investment than that in the traditional energy sources.
djr
5 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2012
Not Parker - how many billions have governments spent on fusion to date? When might we see a return on that investment? 2050? This report shows that states with the most installed wind and solar, are seeing slower inflation on their energy costs. http://www.renewa...-the-u-s The reality is that renewables are coming - and despite your negativity - they are going to lower energy costs, and take us into a new era. Sorry to disapoint you.
NotParker
1 / 5 (7) Feb 08, 2012
Not Parker - how many billions have governments spent on fusion to date? ... renewables are coming - and despite your negativity - they are going to lower energy costs


1) 10 million a year? 25 million? 50 million? Pocket change. R & D is important. The difference is that wind turbines will never pay off because you need backup power systems that produce more CO2 than if the wind turbines have never built.

"Centrica and other energy companies last week told DECC that, if Britain is to spend £100 billion on building thousands of wind turbines, it will require the building of 17 new gas-fired power stations simply to provide back-up for all those times when the wind drops and the windmills produce even less power than usual.
http://www.telegr...lls.html

http://www.thegwp...y-half.h
NotParker
1 / 5 (8) Feb 08, 2012
That's a bit of a misconception as this includes all past AND future investments planned.


Nonsense.

Besides, Germany is import coal and more coal electricity from its neighbors.

http://www.slides...-nuclear
Vendicar_Decarian
0.6 / 5 (40) Feb 09, 2012
Over the past decade, the U.S. has spent over 1,000 billion killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Over the past decade, Germany has spent over 100 billion subsidizing solar energy. " - Parker Tard

Last year alone Americans Consumers spent $25.1 billion on video games, hardware and accessories.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.5 / 5 (39) Feb 09, 2012
ClapTrap

"The difference is that wind turbines will never pay off because you need backup power systems that produce more CO2 than if the wind turbines have never built." - Parker Tard

ClapTrap.
djr
5 / 5 (5) Feb 09, 2012
Not Parker - "1) 10 million a year? 25 million? 50 million? Pocket change" ITER alone is budgeted at 10 billion Euro - and it is estimated that ITER will probably cost 60 - 80 billion Euro http://en.wikiped...conomics So your response is only off by a factor of 1,000 - and that is just for one project. I think the best response to your attacking wind is to look at the vast quantities of wind currently being installed - I guess all of those economists, and engineers are crazy - and the juggernaut picks up speed, and the peanut gallery continues its nonsense.
NotParker
1.2 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2012
ITER will probably cost 60 - 80 billion


12.8 over 10 years.

http://en.wikiped...iki/ITER
NotParker
1 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2012
Last year alone Americans Consumers spent $25.1 billion on video games, hardware and accessories.


They got something for that money. The US already has paid for coal plants that with a lifetime of 50 years that will be shutdown decades ahead of time.

So not only do you throw a way a capital investment that supplies cheap electrcity you replace it with one that survives less than a decade and costs poor people 10x the going rate for coal or NG electricity.

""Thousands of abandoned wind turbines littered the landscape of wind energy's California 'big three' locations which include Altamont Pass, Tehachapin and San Gorgonio, considered among the world's best wind sites," writes Andrew Walden of the American Thinker. "In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.""

alfie_null
4 / 5 (4) Feb 12, 2012
So not only do you throw a way a capital investment that supplies cheap electrcity you replace it with one that survives less than a decade and costs poor people 10x the going rate for coal or NG electricity.

Early technology. As the technology matures, it will be engineered to cost less (i.e. last longer, etc.). That's the way things work. When was the last time you had to have your car's spark plugs replaced?
baudrunner
1 / 5 (2) Feb 12, 2012
That's magnificent! I think that there are more ways to harness tha natural power of nature.
For example, California sits on a ledge over a current that has eroded that gap beneath it. That current produces the energy in order to do that and that energy can be diverted to provide all the power California and neighboring states need for now and beyond.
deepsand
3.2 / 5 (11) Feb 12, 2012
Just what "current" do you refer to?
NotParker
1.2 / 5 (6) Feb 12, 2012
Early technology. As the technology matures, it will be engineered to cost less (i.e. last longer, etc.).


Altamont was installed in the 1970s. Isn't 40 years time enough to mature?

Why not let it mature for another 40 years before throwing away money on "unmature" technology.
ryggesogn2
1.4 / 5 (11) Feb 12, 2012
Of course another way CA can meet such goals is to raise taxes and impose regulations forcing people and businesses to leave which drops the demand for energy.
North Korea has very low energy demands.

This is the tried and true method of reducing the unemployment rate for this regime. Don't count those who stopped looking for work.
deepsand
3.2 / 5 (11) Feb 12, 2012
Just couldn't pass up an opportunity to ignore the physical facts under discussion while opining on your preferred subject of policy matters, could you Marjon.

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