In January 2009, Gov. Deval Patrick set a goal of developing 2,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity, enough to power 800,000 Massachusetts homes, by 2020. This post addresses unrealistic expectations of that goal in terms of onshore wind turbines. Please see the post of April 5 for other onshore wind energy issues. (The offshore case will be treated in separate posts.)
Issue 1: Unrealistic Growth of Wind Turbines
For Massachusetts there are 205 square kilometers of potential wind that will generate 1028 megawatts (MW) of electricity. By Sept. 30, 2010 Massachusetts had 17 MW of installed wind turbine power, which is 1.7 percent of the maximum potential power (1,028 MW), according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Starting with 17 MW now, achieving 1,020 MW in 10 years implies a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 51 percent. That rate is phenomenally high. Compare it with the expected Chinese wind industry growth from 2007 to 2012 at 54 percent CAGR.
As another comparison, the United States wind installation grew from 8,706 MW to 33,542 MW during 2005 to 2009. The CAGR for this case is 30 percent. Thus, Gov. Patrick expects wind installation growth rates in Massachusetts to exceed national wind growth rates. Is this assumption reasonable?
Issue 2: Incorrect Number of Homes Expected to be Powered by Wind
How many homes in Massachusetts could be powered by the maximum available onshore wind energy? To figure this data, you need to know that that maximum wind energy in Massachusetts based on that National Renewable Energy Laboratory analysis (see “Wind Energy, Onshore Case—Acceptable Locations for Wind Turbines“) is 3,323 GWh per year and the average residential monthly electricity consumption in Massachusetts is 618 kWh/month. Using this data, approximately 450,000 consumers could be powered with the maximum amount of onshore wind energy—not 800,000 consumers as Gov. Patrick claims. As there are 2,647,529 consumers in Massachusetts, powering 450,000 of them with onshore wind-generated electricity represents a 17 percent reduction in other forms of energy.Tags: Decommissioning, Deval Patrick, Electricity, Electricity Capital Costs, Homes, Hub Height, Massachusetts, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Tax Breaks, Unpaid Costs, Wind Energy, Wind Locations, Wind Speed, Wind Turbines