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Tuesday July 22nd 2014

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Why Aren’t Those Wind Turbines Turning?

It’s called curtailment—and it could be costing the nation a lot of green energy and green money.
. Some 292,000 megawatt-hours of wind power were curtailed by the Midwest transmission system operator in 2009; in 2010, that figure jumped to about 824,000 megawatt-hours. At a rule-of-thumb 7 cents per kilowatt-hour, that makes the rough cost for one system’s 2010 generation capacity losses $37,240,000 more (at $57,680,000) than losses in 2009 ($20,440,000).

Even in energy generation, those are big numbers — but the rate at which they have increased is even more intimidating to a wind industry struggling to keep costs competitive.

“Curtailment,” Gary Moland, Director of Market Analysis with GL Garrard Hassan, explained, “is reducing generation at a facility below what it could be capable of producing.”

“For most generation facilities,” Moland said, “if you stop putting power out, you also stop consuming the fuel so the consequences of being curtailed are sort of offset.” If, however, “you are not able to take advantage of the wind blowing, that wind is gone.” Moland went on, saying this practice “has a bigger impact on the economics of the plant.”

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