August 5, 2010 - Patriot Place gets solar power; integrating wind into the grid

Thursday, August 5, 2010

 Solar power in action: making wind, pushing sails past Ram Island Light, Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

Several large utilities including Duke Energy Corp. have reported significantly increased power sales for the second quarter of 2010, particularly from industrial customers.  Duke now projects that 2010 power sales will rise 2%.  At its midwestern operating companies, Duke noted 20% growth in industrial power sales.

Here's a short letter to the editor of the Lewiston Sun Journal about old swimming holes now gone, including the impoundments behind older mill dams like the Barker Mill Dam on the Little Androscoggin River.

Add another high-profile place to the list of large businesses adding solar power: Patriot Place, the shopping mall adjoining the New England Patriots' Gillette Stadium, has installed a 525 kW solar array.  They turned to Constellation Energy for the installation, but the solar photovoltaic panels themselves were manufactured by Evergreen Solar of Massachusetts.

Wind turbine prices are flat, averaging about $1.37 million per megawatt of capacity according to a survey by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.  (Note that this is just the turbine price; towers, transmission and installation are all in addition to the turbine price.)  Turbine pricing is down about 15% from its peak in 2008, likely due to a mix of factors including new technology and increased production capacity, but also some decreased demand compared to the initial fervor.

Meanwhile, people continue to solve the problem of how to integrate wind into the grid.  Energy storage is one major approach.  Xcel Energy has issued a report on its experiments with massive 1 megawatt batteries to smooth out voltage and current from wind farms.  Xcel's project in Minnesota is promoted as America's first direct wind-energy-storage project.

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