Morocco launches the largest wind farm in Africa

On June 28, 2010, it was announced that Morocco has inaugurated a $3.13 million USD wind farm in Melloussa, which is near the major port city of Tangiers, just across the Straits of Gibraltar. The king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, presided over the festivities of this important event.

In all, the wind farm has 165 turbines able to produce 140 megawatts of power by the wind alone. Like the Spain and the U.A.E., Morocco is demonstrating that they are increasingly forward-thinking about non-petroleum energy sources. A recently released draft proposes another wind plant, at a cost of $3.5 billion USD. This, coupled with the newly inaugurated wind farm near Tangiers, would bring the country’s reliance upon renewable power up to 42% by the beginning of the next decade.

When a more prosperous nation develops such technologies, this is an enlightened perspective. For a country like Morocco to do so, when so much of their nation is much less financially prosperous, it is a noteworthy commitment to a Greener world. Join us in congratulating His Highness for the vision, and the people of Maroc for this milestone development!
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America Bringing Up the Rear — Alternative Energy Thoughts for the 4th of July

As the U.S. Congress hashes out Green Energy legislation at the prompting of the Obama administration, Americans may feel a certain sense of pride and accomplishment.  Don’t be too quick to pat yourselves on the back.  It happens that the U.S. is behind the curve on this one, has been for years.  The sort of legislation that might come out of this session of Congress might equal the sort of rules, incentives and investments that China has had in place for over two years now.  If we’re really lucky, it might even begin to look something like what smaller European countries have been doing for years, now.  There’s no question, though, that the U.S. is bringing up the rear when it comes to alternative energy.

You may balk at this notion, citing that China is just now becoming a larger buyer of wind turbines than the U.S.  But China has been doubling their wind power capacity each of the past four years, and is already heavily invested in solar farms and burning waste to generate electricity.   Moreover, they’ve got six huge projects under way in their deserts — each with a greater capacity than 16 coal-powered plants.  Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Energy is blocking the building of more coal-burning energy plants.  Coal may still be their primary fuel for electricity, but that still puts them heads and shoulders above us.

Perhaps more telling is this:  Across the U.S., the “not in my back yard” complaint arises any time a wind farm is suggested.  “It just won’t look the same,” life-long residents complain, if they hear of a wind farm being  proposed for a ridgeline.    We here in the States still haven’t quite figured out what the European Union (EU), which is also dependant upon other nations for their oil and gas, has long understood.  Last winter’s gas outage while Russia squabbled with the Ukraine was not the first time they have been without heating fuel during Europe’s harsh winters. This quote sums it up well:

“‘The Europeans see offshore wind turbines as sentinels,’ Mandelstam told me, ‘protecting them from energy domination by foreign powers. When you put that against a few winter days of seeing turbines on the beach as you walk your dog, I think that’s a very easy trade-off.’”

Another adage suggests that if we can’t change something then we should change the way we look at it.

Perhaps it’s time we got serious about alternative energy and started adopting that perspective, seeing wind turbines as sentinels guarding our independence, instead of seeking out more oil and gas so we won’t have to look at those “ugly” wind turbines.

Windspire, the Small Footprint Wind Turbine Alternative

One of the most frequent objections to wind turbines is that some consider them an eyesore, and they take up a lot of space. Enter Mariah Power, a Nevada company, with their innovative designs. The Windspire solves the large footprint problem with a propeller-free design capable of operating in most any terrain or environment.

Unlike the traditional propeller-style wind turbines, Vertical Axis Wind turbines, (VAWTs) consist of blades positioned vertically, which rotate around a vertically placed axis. These blades can be either curved or straight.   The Windspire is a type of Giromill, a VAWT which uses straight-sided blades. Mariah Power researched the optimal airfoil configuration, developing the Windspire absent of self-starting problems normally associated with Giromill turbines.

Not only do Vertical Axis Wind Turbines offer the advantages of an exponentially smaller footprint than what we’re used to seeing, the heads don’t need to orient themselves with the changing wind directions.  This vertical design readily harnesses wind energy from any angle.  Though designed to be  extremely quiet, the Windspire can handle winds up to 100 mph.  They come equipped with a high efficiency generator, integrated inverter, hinged monopole and a wireless performance monitor.  Windspire’s manufacturer provides a warranty is a generous 5-year warranty.

The 1.2 kW Windspire is rated to produce some 2000 kilowatt hours per year under wind speeds of approximately 12 miles per hour.  The internal wireless modem (included) allows you to transmit power production information directly to your computer on a continuous basis, allowing you to check your power production.  The 1.2 kW Windspire is available now for around $5,000 USD including installation.  A low wind version, an off-grid or battery-charging version , and a 3 kW version are each currently in development.

It’s easy to see that Windspires could easily supplant the awkward and space-hungry Horizontal wind turbine designs in closed spaces, allowing the everyman to have a commercial-level generator in his own back yard.   This is amongst the many improvements in design which will lead us into energy independence.  As we move towarads the promise of renewable, passive energy sources, companies like Mariah Power will most certainly pioneer the solutions of tomorrow.

Mexico Gets Windy

On January 22, 2009, Mexico flipped the switch, turning on one of the world’s largest wind farms. Mexico has been relying almost exclusively on petroleum for its energy needs. This demonstrates that Mexico is serious in their hunt for alternative energy sources to replace falling oil production, a drop which caused a 9.2 percent loss. Spanish companies seem to be its first choice for energy partners.

Mexico’s President Filipe Calderon notes that “If we don’t do something about this problem of climate change it probably could become – I’m sure it already is – one of the biggest threats to humanity.”

The new, $550 million project has been placed in an ideal location. Situated on a thin isthmus directly between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, it is certain to get plenty of breezes. In fact, the main town in the area is called “La Ventosa.”

Oddly enough, La Ventosa was in the news earlier this month as well. A Canadian company, Riverside Resources, Inc., purchased over a thousand acres of land which is being mined for gold. Though that may seem impressive, Riverside and an associate investor company will still only be putting in a bit over a million USD into the project per year — a small fraction of the investment Mexico has made in their first large wind turbine project.

We wish our southern neighbors well, and hope that they’ll continue to invest in passive alternative energy resources.

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Pakistan Gets First Wind Turbine

Zorlu Enerji Group installed the very first wind turbine generator in Pakistan on Wednesday, December 3, 2008, in Jamphir, Sindh. The 100 meter tall unit (over 300 feet high) is completely installed, and expected to start generating power before the end of the year. This is a big step forward for Pakistan, where approximately 1/3 of their population has no access to electricity whatsoever.

Zorlu Energy Group spokesperson said they will build the very first wind farm in Pakistan as well. The first phase is expected to be completed by January, 2009, and will provide electricity to 60,000 households. The plant will reach it’s full 50 MW capacity with the second phase. Plans are in place to eventually increase the farm’s capacity to 300 WM, which is comparable to the abilities of the Kanupp nuclear power plant. Even with the nuclear plant, half of the country has been subject to blackouts, further reinforcing the need for this wind farm.

Several risks are involved in a project of this kind in this location. There is considerable political risk, and the project must be prepared to weather social unrest, terroist attack, natural disasters… and yet most of this would also be true anywhere in the world, including southern California. Furthermore, the bureaucracy of Pakistan is very friendly towards alternative energy sources. and investors enjoy a transparent regulatory environment.

Pakistan’s combined generation is currently at 20K MW. 61% is produced by public sector, while 39 % is produced by private investors. Pakistan welcomes alternative energy potentials.

Zorlu Holding is one of the largest and leading groups in Turkey and it has been active in the energy sector through the nine companies of the Zorlu Energy Group since 1993.
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Wind Power in China

In China, nothing is done on a small scale.  The rate of growth and industrial development is staggering.  Ancient villages are being replaced by rapidly-growing cities at a rate that is unbelievable.  With 1.3 BILLION inhabitants, everything in China is huge.  Just to provide perspective, there are 40 million children under the age of ten in China.  That’s the same number as the entire population of Canada!  Shanghai, the largest city in China, is double the size of New York, and its high-speed train travels twice the rate of speed that the U.S. version travels.  Again, for perspective: that’s half the speed of an airplane. 

Providing energy for this explosive growth, burgeoning industry and huge population is a constant concern for the people of China, and the people of the world.  Increasing demand for fossil fuel from this nation is one of the factors causing rising energy costs worldwide, since China, like most developed nations, cannot meet its own energy demands.  China imports crude oil from all around the world, but recognizes that this rate of consumption and growth cannot continue.  As a nation, they are planning for the next generation of energy production: Wind power. 

The Global Wind Energy Council says that China’s installed wind energy capacity could reach 122GW by 2020.  The potential exploitable resource available is estimated at 1000 GW.  Gigantic wind energy projects were constructed in Northern China in the past two years, with an estimated capacity of 1GW.  Other projects are being developed in western provinces such as Gansu and Qinghai to meet the demand locally.  These projects reflect a decision by the central government of China to make wind an important alternative to fossil fuels, a secure energy supply, and a way to combat greenhouse emissions. 

Wind turbine manufacturers from around the world look at China as an important customer.  GE, Gamesa, and Vestas are all investing in Chinese projects, as are domestic Chinese companies such as A Power Energy Generation (APWR), Nantong CASC, Repower North, Nordex, and Hunan Hara XEMC Windpower.  Only GE, Vestas and APWR are listed in North America.  APWR recently signed 50 wind turbine contracts and expects a total annual production capacity of 1.1 GW by 2009.


New Jersey Hooked on Wind

Did you hear? Seems New Jersey is going to lead the way in wind turbine electricity. They’ve ordered a billion dollars worth of wind turbines, which they’re having installed 20 miles offshore. The expectation is that these turbines will be able to provide electricity for 250,000 to half a million homes (depending on the time of day, and the homes’ consumptions.)! That’s a lot of juice!

Why so far off? They wanted to avoid the whole NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) objection. From that distance, it’ll take one heck of a clear day to see anything at all. Even on a clear day, they’ll be tiny little things, wafer-thin, and nothing for anyone to object to. There may even be more (and more consistent) wind that far out offshore, which would mean greater production.

Way to go, New Jersey! The governor may be going out a very little bit on a limb by placing them offshore like that, but it’s hardly a new method. Fact is, they’re already in existence in Europe. Flying out of Amsterdam towards the UK and the United States, one can see the offshore wind farms as the plane climbs out. They’re actually quite streamlined, not at all ugly. The waters there are shallow, though. Perhaps the placement is also taking the water’s depth and other conditions into consideration as well. The state is to be commended for taking the initiative. It’s about time the East coast was one to lead the charge towards environmentally friendly actions!

Wind Power Energy-wind turbine electricity

wind-power.jpgWind-powered energy is a source of electrical power that is friendly to the environment, clean and completely inexhaustible.  Wind power is actually simply another form of solar energy, because wind is created by the sun’s uneven heating of the atmosphere on Earth.  The earth’s rotation and its surface irregularities are responsible for moderating wind power.  There are many factors which go into affecting the flow patterns of the wind, including the terrain, bodies of water and even vegetation.  Luckily, thanks to the great invention of the wind turbine, the energy produced by the wind can now be harnessed and used to create electricity and power to save on purchasing electricity from over-priced non-renewable utility company energy sources. Read more

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