EcoEnergy 101: Wind Farm vs Salmon vs Tesla Technology

(and No ... the Fish aren't being electrocuted!)

But it does seem that our 19th Century Power Grid is already putting the Brakes on the 21th Century Green Energy transformation (already in progress, in some areas) ...

Find out how ... and what should be done about it ...

The Good News Story: A 100 Megawatts Wind Farm went on line in Oregon to a resounding success. The Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm is located in the Eastern Oregon's Columbia Gorge -- an area renown to windsurfers the world over, for their strong and sustained winds; aka "Free, Clean, Green Energy"

Horizon begins operations at Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm

ARLINGTON, ORE. 10-02-2008: Houston-based Horizon Energy will start producing energy from its Rattlesnake Road wind farm in Oregon this week. The wind farm has an installed capacity of 103 MW, and will be fully operational by the end of the year.

The west coast is a highly attractive region for the wind industry because of its abundant resources and vastly populated areas, which drives a high demand for clean energy."

Horizon Wind Energy Inaugurates its 13th Wind Farm in the U.S.

Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm is located near the City of Arlington in Gilliam County, Oregon, on approximately 8,500 acres of private ranch land that overlooks the windswept banks of the Columbia River. It has an installed capacity of 103 megawatts (MW), enough to power approximately 30,000 average homes with clean energy.

Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm consists of 49 Suzlon S88 2.1MW turbines.

Once fully operational, the Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm will prevent the annual emission of 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide

[according to] Antonio Martins da Costa, CEO of Horizon Wind Energy. "The west coast is a highly attractive region for the wind industry because of its abundant resources and vastly populated areas, which drives a high demand for clean energy"

More Good News: the Wind Farm Construction Company is still hiring, as more Farms are being planned: Crestline Construction They're hiring!

So the new Green Energy Economy seems to be off to a great start, in the Pacific Northwest.

Maybe too Good of a start?

The NOT So Good News Story: it was reported, by Local Portland News station, that the new Wind Farm may be producing TOO MUCH Energy!

How too much wind power could actually hurt salmon

By Dan Tilkin KATU News -- Nov 5, 2008

... the new Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm at the eastern end of the Columbia River will produce enough power to light 30,000 homes and will prevent the annual emission of 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to taking 7,000 cars off the road.

... when the wind is really blowing and the farms are operating at maximum capacity, the present system will not be able to handle all of that electricity, which ultimately affects fish.

... there was an unexpected surge in wind power and too much energy was created for the regional grid to handle. To compensate, the dams cut their power by spilling more water.
Part of the problem is that right now we actually have enough electricity to meet demand in the Northwest but excess green power produced here can't just be sent back east.

That's because the electrical grid in the Western United States has little connection to the rest of the country.
In the long run, green power is good for everyone and it's even mandated by law. In Oregon, the state's largest utilities must get 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. In Washington, it's 15 percent by 2020 and in California, it's 20 percent by 2010.

But keep in mind that hardly any new transmission lines have been built in the last 15 years.

Attention Green Energy Proponents, We have a Green Energy "Road Block", in the NW: and it's the lack transmission lines to ship the excess Electricity back East!

The Bad News Story: Instead of routing that excess Wind Energy somewhere else, where it's needed, the Local Power Company had to spill water reserves from its Hydro-power Dam, just to keep the Electrical Demand Loads in balance!
[Thanks to the Tesla AC Power Grid Technology.]

For a variety of reasons, such "unplanned" Hydro Spills are NOT Good, for Endangered Species, lake Salmon,

A pinnacle species, which fares much better in traveling through a less volatile fish ladder:

And more practical to Humans, that "Excess Hydro Spill" represents "Uncaptured Clean Energy"; In Drought years, we might wish we still had that Water, stored in reserve, behind the Dams.

What is wrong with our Power Supply System?

Answer: It is based on 19th Technology, first invented by Nikola Tesla in 1896, and popularized by Thomas Edison, at the turn of the last Century!
[It may be time for an Upgrade? ]

Today's alternating current power grid was created in 1896, based on Nikola Tesla's design published in 1888.
The original power grid technology has its control systems embedded in the generating plants, transmission lines and substations; information flows one way, from the users, and the loads they control, back to the utilities.

The utilities attempt to meet the demand and succeed or fail to varying degrees (brownout, rolling blackout, uncontrolled blackout). The total amount of power loaded by the users can have a very wide probability distribution which require a lot of spare generating plants in standby mode to respond to the rapidly changing power usage.

This one-way flow of information is expensive; the last 10% of generating capacity may be required as little as 1% of the time, and brownouts and outages can be costly to consumers.

Demand Response (DR) is the next step in sophistication. This can be as simple as timers to switch off electric water heaters during peak-demand periods, but such systems are unable to respond to contingencies.

The full Smart grid allows generators and loads to interact in real time, using modern information and communications technology.

Our current Power Grids, are "dumb" in the sense, they are always on, always pushing out power in one direction. They're like a Drinking Fountain that's always On, whether or not a person is there or not. (There are Power Company techs who must decide when to "crank up the amps", or when to "ramp down the water turbines" however; So the Grid is "human assisted" and partially-smart in that sense.)

In the Proposed Smart Grids, computers and smart devices, enable 2-way flow of Information and Electricity, as detected, and when needed. Think of a Smart Grid as an "internet routing network", for Electricity, instead of for Data:

[It may be time to reboot the grid]

(Click for a larger image)

Good News Story: Solutions exist to exist to "Empower" the Green Energy Economy of the 21st Century; These are often referred to as "Smart Grids", or as Al Gore puts it: "Unified National Smart Grid". These Energy Networks, will create many new jobs, including IT jobs of the Energy Independence growth sectors.

Smart Grid is a transformed electricity transmission and distribution network or "grid" that uses robust two-way communications, advanced sensors, and distributed computers to improve the efficiency, reliability and safety of power delivery and use.

Deploying the Smart Grid became the policy of the United States with passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Title 13). The law, Title 13, sets out $100M in funding per fiscal year from 2008-2012 in addition to other reimbursements and incentives.

The Smart Grid is also being promoted by the European Union and other nations.

Nobel Prize Winner, Al Gore has a few thoughts on what is needed in a "Unified National Smart Grid". Many of the important technical details are spelled out on his Green Energy advocacy site:
[Check it out, sign up, make a difference.]

Repower America
100% clean electricity within 10 years

First described in a speech in July by Al Gore, Repower America means new industries with high-paying jobs. It means lower energy costs. It means replacing coal and foreign oil with clean domestic sources. It is a vital step toward protecting the environment and solving the climate crisis.

Unified National Smart Grid: Modernize transmission infrastructure so that clean electricity generated anywhere in America can power homes and businesses across the nation; Build national electricity 'interstates' that move power quickly and cheaply to where it is needed; Establish local smart grids that buy and sell power from households and support clean plug-in cars.

Unified National Smart Grid

The Problem: ... And most critical to clean energy development, areas rich in renewable resources like solar, wind and geothermal are currently not well-served and thus have no ‘highway’ available to move power outputs to the markets where that power is needed.

The Solution: Modernize and expand the infrastructure for moving electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed through a unified national smart grid. Make that grid ‘smart’ so that it can monitor and balance the load, accommodate distributed energy from local areas and, in the near future, capitalize on a massive national fleet of clean plug-in cars. This new grid encompasses both the long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines and the lower voltage distribution systems that connect the power to customers.

A unified national smart grid will form the backbone and the entire skeleton of our modern electricity system, allowing us to efficiently carry large amounts of electricity over long distances in a network that is resistant to failure. It will allow us to connect solar power in Arizona with manufacturing centers in Ohio or allow us to use evening wind power on the East Coast to support late afternoon peak demand in Nevada.

We Can Solve It: Common Thread

Sometimes, you actually got to, Build that Ladder 1st, that will get you over those legacy "Road Blocks", in order to get back to clear swimming, towards that Greener Future:

Don't let any Bear Market Obstacles, stop that forward progress either, from getting us to the other side:

Nature's Imperatives MUST be addressed, sooner or later ... "the Earth hangs in the Balance."

Hopefully, "Intelligent Life" still exists, somewhere, on this Planet?

(maybe even, somewhere, outside of the DC power-brokers for special interests, too)

Decentralized Power generation, for income, what a great Idea,
hhmmm, maybe I should build a wind farm, or a solar farm ... maybe we all should ... Co-op time, anyone?

No votes yet


High voltage direct current (HVDC) supergrids

HVDC cables currently connect the British and French national grids under the English Channel, and connect Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Netherlands. They lose only about 3% of the electricity over every 1,000 kilometers.

The DC grid between Scandinavia and the Netherlands is already used to store surplus power until it is needed by pumping water uphill in Norwegian hydroelectric plants.

Traditional low voltage AC lines lose large amounts of electricity in long distance transmission, because electricity is dissipated as heat due to the resistance of the conductors. High voltage lines require less surface area for transmission, which results in less heat being created, and therefore less transmission loss. Nonetheless, High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) lines remain inefficient over long distances.

Despite this, since AC power can easily be transformed from low to high voltage for transmission, and then converted back again for local use, AC has generally been the first choice for most utilities and transmission companies. However, with the use of modern static inverters, it is now possible to invert AC to DC and then back again with very high efficiency – making HVDC increasingly attractive. When transporting energy over large distances, the savings made due to the increased efficiency of HVDC lines more than offset the additional cost of the inverters.
HVDC lines can be used to connect remote generating centres, or to connect large HVAC grids that are out of sync with each other, such as connecting national grids that run on different frequencies, for example. Increasing the interconnections between neighbouring national grids has the added benefit of increasing the stability of electricity supply across the region, even before new energy sources are added to the mix.

While HVDC lines are already economically attractive when used over long distances, costs are likely to decrease even further as the cost of static inverters and other hardware comes down.

Two studies for the German government carried out by the German Aerospace Centre (the DLR), examined in detail the possibility of creating a regional supergrid connecting the entire Europe-Mediterranean region.
Similar supergrids could play an equally valuable role in other parts of the world, either linking a number of countries or within large nations such as Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia or the United States. ...
James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and perhaps the world’s best known climate scientist, recently described a supergrid for the US as “the single most critical action” for decreasing carbon emissions. In testimony to the US Congress, he went on to say:

The next President must make a national low-loss electric grid an imperative. It will allow dispersed renewable energies to supplant fossil fuels for power generation. Technology exists for direct-current high-voltage buried transmission lines. Trunk lines can be completed in less than a decade and expanded analogous to interstate highways.

...  Website 
(pdf with supergrid maps)

Thanks, James.

I love the multi-part aspect of the story, too -- that the whole is more than the sum of its parts, in a very real sense.

That's the nature of Complexity.

many interacting, moving parts ...

Nature somehow always seems to find a balance, between the parts.

But then again Nature, does not act on the basis of unrestrained and irrational Greed.

Perhaps humans, need to look to Eco-Systems, for a few cues, on how to keep a Complex, interacting Machine, running smoothly?

Carrying Capacity, seems to be one of those key, missing concepts, nowhere to be found, in out modern facade of a Global Competition.

great commentary! I love seeing my old home state in the news (in a good way).  Need all of that we can get to make up for Bob Packwood, Tonya Harding ...


Oregon seems to be a pace-setter state again.

It a good progressive state. I enjoy living here. Except for the weather sometimes.