U.S. wind turbines getting taller and more efficient

A model in the GE portfolio is almost as high as a 90 story building.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Nov. 30, 2017 at 5:48 AM
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Nov. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. federal data show installed wind turbines are taller and more efficient than in the past, though hydroelectric power still holds a slight edge.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that the average height and power generating capacity for wind turbines installed in the country are taller and more efficient that in years past.

"Since 2012, the average height of wind turbines installed in the United States has been about 280 feet, or 80 meters. Before 2006, few wind turbines were as tall as 280 feet," the federal brief found. "Wind speed typically increases with altitude and increases over open areas without windbreaks such as trees or buildings."

GE Renewable Energy, one of the industry leaders for wind power, said it has more than 60,000 megawatts of power installed globally and much of that is placed in North America and Europe. The company said this week that wind power represents about 34 percent if its forecast for installed renewable energy until 2022.

The company's 4.8 MW design, from ground to the tip of the rotor, would be the equivalent of a 90 story building. EIA said that, all things considered, the bigger the better.

By state, Texas, also the No. 1 oil producer in the country, has the most installed wind capacity and hosts the largest wind farm in the country, the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center. That site hosts 420 wind turbines and can generate 735 MW of power at its peak.

In September, German energy company E.ON started construction on a 20 MW storage facility to service its Inadale and Pyron wind facilities in the west of Texas. The company said early this year that wind farms are becoming more cost-competitive, with the budget for the Texas projects coming in below what similar projects cost in 2009.

A quarterly report from the American Wind Energy Association found the sector is gaining traction. Compared with last year, there were 40 percent more wind energy projects under construction or advancing through the development stage during the second quarter.

Despite improvements in power storage and efficiency, the EIA said hydroelectric power still holds a small edge over wind when it comes to the generation of electricity. Electricity generated from wind won't pass hydroelectric power either in the short-term future.

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