Wind power in Texas

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Vestas V47-660kW wind turbine at American Wind Power Center in Lubbock, Texas

Wind power in Texas consists of many wind farms with a total installed generating capacity of 9,410 MW[1] from over 40 different projects. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state, followed by Iowa with 3,670 MW.[2]

Several forces are working to the advantage of wind power in Texas: the wind resource in many areas of the state is very large, large projects are relatively easy to site, and the market price for electricity is relatively high because it is set by natural gas prices.[3] The wind power industry is also creating many jobs and farmers may earn extra income by leasing their land to wind developers.[4]

The Roscoe Wind Farm (781 MW) is the world's largest wind farm. Other large wind farms in Texas include: Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, Sherbino Wind Farm, Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm, Sweetwater Wind Farm, Buffalo Gap Wind Farm, King Mountain Wind Farm, Desert Sky Wind Farm, Wildorado Wind Ranch, and the Brazos Wind Farm.

Overview[change | change source]

Wind power has a long history in Texas. West Texas State University began wind energy research in 1970 and led to the formation of the Alternative Energy Institute (AEI) in 1977. AEI has been a major information resource about wind energy for Texas.[5]

Texas is firmly established as the leader in wind power development in the USA, ahead of Iowa and California.[2] The expanding wind power market will help Texas meet its 2015 renewable energy goal of 5,000 new megawatts of power from renewable sources.[6]

The table below lists the larger wind farms in Texas, currently operating or under construction. Wind farms which are smaller than 120 MW in capacity are not shown.

Summary table: Large wind farms in Texas[7][2]
Wind farm Installed
capacity (MW)
Turbine
Manufacturer
County
Barton Chapel Wind Farm 120 Gamesa Jack
Brazos Wind Ranch (Green Mt. Energy Wind Farm) 160 Mitsubishi Scurry/ Borden
Buffalo Gap Wind Farm 523 Vestas Taylor/ Nolan
Bull Creek Wind Farm 180 Mitsubishi Borden
Camp Springs Wind Energy Center 130.5 Scurry
Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm 662 GE Energy/ Siemens Sterling/ Coke
Champion Wind Farm 126 Siemens Nolan
Desert Sky Wind Farm 160 GE Energy Pecos
Elbow Creek Wind Project 122 Siemens Howard
Forest Creek Wind Farm 124 Siemens Glasscock/ Sterling
Goat Mountain Wind Ranch 150 Coke/ Sterling
Gulf Wind Farm 283 [8] Mitsubishi Kenedy
Hackberry Wind Project 165 Siemens Shackelford
Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center 735 GE Energy/ Siemens Taylor/ Nolan
Inadale Wind Farm 197 Mitsubishi Scurry/ Nolan
King Mountain Wind Farm 278.5 Bonus/ GE Energy Upton
Langford Wind Farm 150 GE Energy Tom Green/ Schleicher/ Irion
Lone Star Wind Farm 400 Gamesa Shackelford/ Callahan
McAdoo Wind Farm 150 GE Energy Dickens
Notrees Windpower 150 Duke Energy Ector/ Winkler
Panther Creek Wind Farm 458 GE Energy Howard/ ...
Peñascal Wind Farm 202 [9] Mitsubishi Kenedy
Pyron Wind Farm 249 GE Energy Scurry/ Fisher/ Nolan
Roscoe Wind Farm 781[10] Mitsubishi Nolan
Sherbino Wind Farm 150 Vestas Pecos
Stanton Energy Center 120 GE Energy Martin/ Howard
Sweetwater Wind Farm 585 GE Energy/ Siemens/ Mitsubishi Nolan
Trent Wind Farm 150 GE Energy Taylor
Turkey Track Energy Center 169.5 Nolan/ Coke/ Runnels
Wildorado Wind Ranch 161 Siemens Oldham/ Potter/ Randall
Woodward Mountain Wind Ranch 159 Vestas Pecos
Part of the Desert Sky Wind Farm off I-10
A wind turbine blade on I-35 near Elm Mott, an increasingly common sight in Texas

Several forces are driving the growth of wind power in Texas: the wind resource in many areas of the state is very large, large projects are relatively easy to site, and the market price for electricity is set by natural gas prices and so is relatively high.[3] The broad scope and geographical extent of wind farms in Texas is considerable:

"Wind resource areas in the Texas Panhandle, along the Gulf Coast south of Galveston, and in the mountain passes and ridge tops of the Trans-Pecos offer Texas some of the greatest wind power potential in the United States. Currently there are over 2,000 wind turbines in West Texas alone. Most of the new wind capacity added in the last two years has been in the Abilene-Sweetwater area. The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center is the largest wind power facility in the nation with a total capacity of 735 MW. It is spread across approximately 47,000 acres in Taylor and Nolan County near Abilene."[11]

Wind is a highly variable resource, but with proper understanding it can be readily incorporated into an electric utility's generation mix. Many areas contain areas with winds presently suitable for electric power generation. The number of commercially attractive sites will expand as wind turbine technology improves and development costs continue to drop.[12]

Texas farmers may lease their land to wind developers for either a set rental per turbine or for a small percentage of gross annual revenue from the project.[13] This offers farmers a fresh revenue stream without impacting traditional farming and grazing practices. Although leasing arrangements vary widely, the U. S. Government Accountability Office reported in 2004 that a farmer who leases land to a wind project developer can generally obtain royalties of $3,000 to $5,000 per turbine per year in lease payments. These figures are rising as larger wind turbines are being produced and installed.[4]

The wind power industry is also creating thousands of jobs for communities and for the state.[14] Wind technology and the various aspects of producing electricity from wind power can help to keep employment in Texas after the rigs stop producing oil.[11]

Terrorism and industrial accidents can be potential threats to the large, centrally located, power plants that provide most of Texas’ electricity. Should one of these plants be damaged, repairs could take more than a year, possibly creating power shortages on a scale that Texans have never experienced before. Coal trains and gas pipelines are also vulnerable to disruption. However, wind power plants are quickly installed and repaired. The modular structure of a wind farm also means that if one turbine is damaged, the overall output of the plant is not significantly affected.[15]

References[change | change source]

  1. [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 [2]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wind Riding Favorable Policy Breeze Toward Record Year Renewable Energy Access, 5 June 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 State Energy Conservation Office. The New Cash Crop
  5. "Alternative Energy Institute". http://www.windenergy.org/.
  6. Airtricity Finalizes 209-MW Wind Project in Texas Renewable Energy Access, 16 May 2007.
  7. Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association. Texas operational wind plants
  8. "Babcock & Brown Gulf Coast wind project clears legal hurdle". Power Engineering International. 7 August 2008. http://pepei.pennnet.com/display_article/336467/6/ARCHI/none/INDUS/1/Babcock-&-Brown-Gulf-Coast-wind-project-clears-legal-hurdle/. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  9. Chirinos, Fanny S. (March 13, 2008). "Wind power advances". Corpus Christi Caller-Times. http://www.caller.com/news/2008/mar/13/wind-power-advances/. Retrieved 2009-03-28.
  10. E.ON Delivers 335-MW of Wind in Texas
  11. 11.0 11.1 State Energy Conservation Office. Texas wind energy
  12. "Texas Wind Energy Resources". http://www.infinitepower.org/reswind.htm.
  13. Krauss, Clifford (2008-02-23). "Move Over, Oil, There’s Money in Texas Wind". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/23/business/23wind.html. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  14. Block, Ben (2008-07-24). "In Windy West Texas, An Economic Boom". http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/008271.html. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  15. SEED Coalition and Public Citizen’s Texas office (2002). Renewable Resources: The New Texas Energy Powerhouse p. 11.