Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Clean Power

The Mighty Tennessee Valley Authority Dips a Cautious Toe into Clean, Renewable Wind Power

The Tennessee Valley Authority has begun supplying renewable wind power to its customersThe Tennessee Valley Authority, a sprawling utility company owned by the U.S. government, has announced that it has begun transmitting 300 megawatts of wind power to its customers courtesy of a wind farm in Illinois.  It’s the first installment in a plan to provide 1,380 megawatts of Midwestern wind to the Southeastern U.S.


All those megawatts sound pretty impressive – er, maybe not.  TVA generates power from other low-emission or zero-emission sources including hydro and nuclear, but its 11 coal fired plants still account for about half of its generating capacity, weighing in at 14,469 megawatts.  It will take a much larger wind purchase program to push coal aside.  The way things are going, that could happen sooner rather than later.

Midwest Wind for Southeast Power

TVA’s new wind purchase program echoes the ambitious DESERTEC solar power program, which envisions a ring of huge solar power facilities in sun-drenched North Africa to supply sun-challenged Europe.  In TVA’s case, it’s wind instead of sun.  The Southeast has a pretty abysmal rating when it comes to local wind power potential, so the obvious solution is to truck it in from someplace where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains. Not having to negotiate the complexities of international boundaries is a real bonus, too.

More Midwest Wind on the Way

Meanwhile, up in Montana a company called Grasslands Renewable Energy is developing the Wind Spirit Project, which will aggregate ten wind power developers that account for more than 3,000 megawatts. The project includes emerging energy storage and smart grid technologies that create a reliable energy stream.  That’s pretty good, but imagine how impressive the Midwest wind market would be today if some bigger investors had gotten involved.  How about BP, which has been pitching all that “Beyond Petroleum” stuff for a while?  Well, turns out BP’s renewables program is mostly talk.  The company spent about as much on advertising in two years as they did on clean energy in six years.  In 2009 the company spent about $1.3 billion on renewables, a paltry 0.5% of its $240 billion in revenues for that year.

Wind vs. Fossil Fuels

Speaking of BP, the company’s executives have finally admitted that they don’t have a good estimate of the amount of oil gushing from their broken pipe in the Gulf of Mexico, let alone an estimate of the damage to marine life and to coastal economies.  For a hint of what the potentials are, take a look at Appalachia, where the coal economy is linked to chronic poverty and serious public health issues – and which happens to supply TVA with some of its coal.  Given that connection, TVA’s move toward renewable wind energy, along with its ambitious energy conservation plan (pdf alert), is not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  It could also help bring about a seismic shift in the economic landscape of Appalachia.

Image:  Pinwheels in the wind by d’n’c on

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


You May Also Like

Clean Transport

The actual live events only produce a fraction of emissions for F1 and other sports. It's the supporting activities --the impact of sports facilities...


Today, society faces 3 major challenges in the built environment: ensuring building safety, improving sustainability, and addressing our affordable housing crisis.


We have reached a moment in history when our actions will determine the viability of our planet and the life it sustains—and to ensure...


Nuclear for commercial ships is so obviously flawed from a business perspective that I didn't even bother to include it in my quadrant chart...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.