Looking for something to smile about this morning?
Check out the latest interactive map by which shows a total of 815 online wind power farms currently powering 15 Million homes.
According to energy.gov, 2012 was a banner year for wind energy in the US, with some 143 wind farms either coming on line or increasing their capacity.
(Some tips on interpreting the interactive map: a blue flash signifies a new wind farm. As they age over time the color shifts to purple, darkening in hue with age. A time slider makes it possible to determine locations of wind farms.)
The agency's report shows a signficiant uptrend in renewable wind powered energy, noting the growth in the industy is supporting "tens of thousands of jobs."
In other clean energy news, solar industry maverick Arno Harris will be advocating a flexible energy grid next week as a participant in Sen. Harry Reid's National Clean Energy Summit.
In an article published earlier today, Flexible Grid The Key To A Clean Energy Future, Harris says solar and wind are now two of the three major energy sources included in US planning for meeting the nation's energy needs and urges big changes to the electric grid to make possible a scenario in which 70% of US would be renewably sourced.
Harris' vision of a flexible grid would "move power fluidly across regions from where it is generated to where it is used. It features large amounts of distributed generation and the ability to manage power demand by controlling large equipment that doesn’t have to run all the time. And it has quick-response resources like hydro and gas-fired generators (and storage) that can be ramped up and down quickly to cover short-term imbalances between supply and demand."
Key characteristics include:
Regional Integration – we need more transmission lines and (just as important) we need agreements between regions to share resources and information about demand and available generation
Demand-side Resources – we need to create markets or tariffs for distributed generation and demand-management that enables system operators to reduce, forecast, and control load
Flexible Generation & Storage – we need to create markets for generation and storage that place value on the capability to ramp up and down quickly and maintain local power quality
Forecasting & Scheduling – to make the most of all of the above, we need to give system operators access to current information about supply and demand plus the controls over transmission, generation, and load to make it all work together seamlessl
In a report
issued today, the Obama Administration is also calling for flexibility in the nation's power grid and suggests the country could save billions of dollars by upgrading the aging power structure, sorely inadequate to address impacts of extreme weather events. Power outages, the report indicates, between $18 and $33 billion from the economy annually, and that number could rise to between $40 and $75 billion as extreme weather incidents increase.
Seven of the ten costliest storms in U.S. history occurred between 2004 and 2012. Eleven times last year weather-related outages led to losses of $1 billion or more, the second most on record, behind 2011, according to the report. Climate scientists expect ever more intense and destructive weather as climate change increases global temperatures, adding more energy to storms and shifting patterns of drought and precipitation.
The report suggests "hardening" the current system through increasing the number of transmission wires and storage facilities, updating technology and employing more resilient and stronger equipment.