A team of experts in the United Kingdom evaluated the risk of a wind turbine accident. Because actual, real-world wind turbine accidents are extremely rare events (once every 10,000 years per turbine per year), the experts ran millions of simulations of virtually all the possible ways a wind turbine blade can become detached and how far blade pieces could travel. The experts for the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive summed up their research like this: “The risk of fatality from wind turbines (at 2 hub heights or greater from the turbine) is low in comparison to other societal risks. It is roughly equivalent to the risk of fatality from taking two aircraft flights per annum.” The experts also noted you’re also more likely to die by taking four fairground rides per year than from a wind turbine blade/fragment.
Wind turbine technology has advanced significantly in the past few years, enabling wind farms to sprout up in new areas, particularly in the Southeast. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in harnessing more electricity and reducing costs. Even as new wind development promises sustainable economic development in rural counties, in some cases new wind farm proposals are being met with hostility and resistance. North Carolina is a recent example of new turbine technology creating opportunities and opposition, as anti-wind activists use confusion and misinformation to press for wind farm bans that are disguised as regulation.
Construction began this summer on the first utility-scale wind farm in North Carolina, and one of the first in the southeastern U.S., the Amazon Wind Farm US East, powered by Iberdrola Renewables. This exciting development in rural northeastern North Carolina will deliver significant local economic benefits over the life of the project, starting with a huge boost for local companies and workers during construction. It will soon be the largest taxpayer in each of the two counties where it’s located, and combined with landowner lease payments, will inject more than $1.1 million into the local economy each year.
While the Amazon Wind Farm US East isn’t the first wind farm in the South (as many, many news reports incorrectly stated), it certainly is the largest. In 2004, the wind development company Invenergy constructed the Buffalo Mountain wind farm near Oliver Springs, Tennessee. The Tennessee Valley Authority has purchased power from the Buffalo Mountain wind farm for over a decade. The Buffalo Mountain wind farm is made up of 13 wind turbines with a total capacity of 27 megawatts; meanwhile, the new Amazon Wind Farm US East will contain 102 wind turbines with a total capacity of 208 megawatts, with an option to add another 50 turbines (100 megawatts).
A new, peer-reviewed article published in the scientific journal SCIENCE estimates that 3 million hectares of land (that’s 11,583 square miles, or 30,000 square kilometers) have been lost due to oil and gas well pads, storage tanks and associated roads developed in North America since the year 2000. Rangeland and cropland through the heartland have been particularly [...]
Electric utility companies across the south are snapping up wind power contracts – and now a utility in Mississippi may jump on the wind rush bandwagon. South Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA) recently released a request for proposals for up to 250 megawatts of wind power – a first for Mississippi. Depending on wind farm performance levels, 250 MW of wind power could represent about 8-9% of SMEPA’s power sales.
It’s that time of year again: AWEA’s annual WINDPOWER Conference has begun! For this year, the conference has returned to the South. In 2012, this conference was hosted in Atlanta, and this year, we’re reporting from sunny (and windy) Orlando, Florida. Some folks may be wondering why the industry’s largest conference is hosted in the South, since our region only has one operating wind farm; but some of the presentations that have already made make a good case for doing business in the South.
Kentucky is currently home at least nine wind energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were up to 100 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Kentucky. Developing land-based wind in the state could greatly add to local economic benefits and create more wind energy-related jobs.
New wind speeds maps released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrate the greatly increased potential for wind turbine development in Mississippi with advanced turbines. As wind turbines increase in height, Mississippi’s wind energy resources become more available. The shading on the map above represents new available land for wind development with modern turbines with towers of 360 feet (110 meters) achieving a 35% capacity factor or greater. With these new wind turbines, over 43,000 megawatts (MW) of land-based wind potential currently exists in Mississippi. Developing just one gigawatt of wind energy capacity (1,000 MW) in Mississippi (one-forty-third of Mississippi’s potential) could power more than 255,500 homes a year!
Virginia is currently home to at least six wind energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were up to 500 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Virginia. Developing land-based wind in the state could greatly add to local economic benefits and create more wind energy-related jobs.