Thursday, June 07, 2007

Updates on big wind and solar

There have been a couple happy news stories about wind energy installations and a solar energy installation recently.

The high level take aways on wind:
1) Over 4,500 MW of wind power projects are in the process of being built for completion this year and early next year.
2) At the end of the first quarter, total installed wind power capacity was 11,699 MW.

That still represents less about 0.8% of US power production, but we will pass the 1% threshold by early 2008. Germany gets 7% of its power from wind and Denmark we have lots of room to increase our wind capacity.

The 64 MW solar thermal installation, Nevada One started producing power today, after just 16 months of construction. It is nice to have multi-tens of megawatt scale solar projects to point to. And this is a super quick installation for the energy industry. Way to go parabolic troughs!

The cost of the plant was right around $4/W installed from the article and is expected to generate up to 134 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year. While this is a large plant for the solar world, it is small from the utility standpoint. If one builds plants 5x, 10x, 20x larger than this, people expect the cost per Watt to fall markedly due to economies of scale.


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