Continuous variations in wind direction, speed and intensity cause some turbines to spin while others nearby may be idle.
Sophisticated monitoring and wind resource analysis allow wind developers to estimate with a high degree of certainty "when" and "how much" wind energy is available, so customers can plan their wind power purchases. When the wind blows, it can displace fossil-fueled generation such as oil and gas. Studies have shown that when a utility diversifies its power portfolio with the addition of wind energy, it can meet demands more reliably.
When the wind is calm, the turbine is at rest. However, at the hub height of a utility-scale wind turbine – usually more than 200 feet above ground – on a site selected specifically for its good wind resources, it is rare for the wind to be totally still.
Yes, but they vary by region. In California, the peak wind season is summer; in the Midwest, it's fall and winter; in Texas, spring is peak. Each wind plant has specific daily and seasonal variations. Each wind site also has specific wind patterns, which are determined through wind studies conducted during early development of a project.
Turbines sited in areas that experience extreme cold or heat are equipped with special Arctic or tropical equipment packages. Nevertheless, in sustained winds of 56 mph or gusts of about 100 mph, turbines shut down automatically.
Wind turbines generally require preventative maintenance checkups two to three times per year.
The elaborate computer system inside a turbine performs thorough self-diagnostic tests and troubleshoots errors before the startup command is given. If the computer detects any problems it cannot auto-correct, the turbine automatically shuts down. In addition, a SCADA (system control and data acquisition) control system allows a remote operator (using a data link from anywhere in the country) to set new operating parameters, perform system checks and ensure turbines are operating at peak performance.
Not at all. Today, wind energy is the fastest-growing renewable energy resource in the world. Wind energy has always been clean and renewable and, over the past 20 years, the cost of wind energy has dropped about 80 percent. With the federal production tax credit, wind energy can be competitive with other energy sources.
Wind energy is one of the safest energy technologies, with several built-in safety features.
"They also require minimal maintenance, and the reliability of wind turbines, measured in terms of availability to make electricity when the wind is blowing, is better than 98 percent." (Source: Paul Gipe, Wind Power Comes of Age, 1996)
Modern turbines are equipped with an extensive lightning protection system that transfers high voltages and currents without affecting turbine operations.
Wind turbines have moving parts, but the sound they make is virtually undetectable from a distance. You would have little difficulty conversing right beneath one.
While we cannot predict any direct correlation between new wind energy facilities and the price consumers will pay for electricity, easing the supply crunch with cost-efficient sources of power could prevent higher prices.
Building a strong partnership with the community is critical to the success of every NextEra Energy Resources project. With community dialogue a vital component of our strategy, we start speaking with residents early in the project development process to introduce the project and solicit early feedback on our proposal. Our goals are to:
We also meet with elected and appointed officials, civic associations, environmental groups and other community organizations. We periodically share new information, as it becomes available, to provide project updates to the community.
An environmental review is performed for every project. NextEra Energy Resources works to preserve cultural and environmental resources. Wind projects are sited in areas where there is good wind, the ability to transmit the energy, a market for the energy, and land use is compatible with a wind farm.
No. Wind-generated power does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions, water emissions or solid waste byproducts.
Typical steps include:
Issues that might be addressed include:
For more detailed information, refer to Permitting of Wind Energy Facilities, a handbook prepared by the National Wind Coordinating Committee.
Depending upon the size and potential impact of the proposed project, regulating bodies on the local, state and/or federal level might participate in the permitting process:
NextEra Energy Resources generally secures long-term commitments for a wind farm's output from one or more buyers prior to construction.
The length of time will vary from project to project, but wind farms can be brought on-stream faster than most other types of power-generating facilities. For example, natural gas power plants can take two to three years or more to develop. The permitting process for wind is less complex because wind energy does not have the same environmental impact as fossil-fueled power generators. Wind energy produces no emissions and no solid waste byproducts. The length of construction will depend primarily upon the number of turbines to be erected, the terrain and prevailing weather conditions. In some cases, this can all be accomplished within six to nine months.
Wind turbines can provide a unity power factor and help in stabilizing voltage. Newer wind generators have switched capacitors that are applied as generation and VAR demand increases, keeping power factor above 99 percent. One turbine now on the market uses power electronics and a variable speed rotor to automatically maintain the desired grid voltage or reactive power flow to the utility. This design feature is particularly beneficial to weaker grids.
A study of system interface and operational issues by Robert Putnam of Electrotek Concepts found no insurmountable challenges. He noted, "Any issues that have developed, such as intermittency and voltage regulation, can be addressed by accepted power system procedures and practices." (Source: American Wind Energy Association in Wind Energy Weekly, #680, 15 January 1996)