Arizona wind farm to produce 500MW, power 175000 homes

July 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Like hydroelectric, geothermal, and other green energy sources, wind does not work everywhere. Wind energy exploits,not a natural resource, but a natural feature, and has very few negative side-effects. The only real problem with wind is its relatively low power output, on the order of 1-3 megawatts per turbine. To generate substantial amounts of power requires significant investment in large scale wind farms — and now BP Wind Energy is doing just that.

Nicely out of the way about 40 miles from Kingman in Mojave County, Arizona, this wind farm is set to produce anywhere from 425 to 500 megawatts of power for the area. That’s enough to power 175,000 homes.

When I write that these wind farms are large, I mean large. With a projected footprint of over 38,000 acres, this technology surpasses even solar in terms of pure ground use. The project was also amended several times to avoid disturbing the nesting areas of the golden eagle — one of wind power’s main environmental impacts is its tendency to turn birds into small, feathery explosions, sucking them in and chopping them up.

This map shows the distribution of turbines over more than 38,000 acres of land.

Dstribution of turbines over more than 38,000 acres of land.

This is all part of President Obama’s pledge to reduce carbon output and increase the production of American-made energy. This serves the dual masters of energy independence and slowing the progress of global climate change. It marks the 46th wind, solar, and geothermal utility-scale project on public lands since 2009.

Wind power has made some significant strides lately, both in terms of increased generation per turbine and increased construction of the turbines themselves. Still, it is just one of a suite of green energy solutions, and by far the most ascendant is solar power. While wind, geothermal, and hydro move forward in terms of efficiency, there is still an upper bound to the amount of energy available; a turbine can only maximally collect the amount of kinetic energy carried by the wind or water which turns it. Solar can only soak up the amount of light energy that falls upon it — and that maxima is much, much higher.

Still, this wind farm marks one of the most significant investments in green energy production, and unlike some similar proposals, it will not encroach closer than a quarter-mile from private property. Set out in the Mojave, turning in obscurity and creating both power and job with a minimal environmental footprint, it’s difficult to come up with too things to complain about.

Now read: Bladeless, funnel-based wind turbine claims huge efficiency gains

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