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Published on June 30th, 2013 | by Andrew


GE’s Brilliant Wind Turbine — Wind Power Cheaper Than Coal Or Natural Gas (Part 2)

June 30th, 2013 by  

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on GE’s Brilliant 1.6-100 wind turbine. Read Part 1 here, and keep an eye on CleanTechnica or our GE Brilliant Wind Turbine archives for Part 3.

GE Power & Water Wind Products GM Keith Longtin in front of the Brilliant 1.6-100's battery storage bank. Credit: A. Burger/Clean Technica

GE Power & Water Wind Products GM Keith Longtin in front of the Brilliant 1.6-100’s battery storage bank.
Credit: A. Burger/CleanTechnica

Lower Cost Wind Energy + New Revenue-Generating Opportunities

The GE Brilliant 1.6-100’s Ramp Control, Predictive Power Analytics, and short-term, grid-scale battery storage capabilities open up new revenue-generating opportunities for wind farm operators, enabling them to sell into regional grid operators’ frequency regulation markets. Explained Lindsay Theile, renewable energy communications leader for GE Power & Wind,

Because batteries perform so much quicker than thermal generation, they [wind power producers] should receive a multiplier to current prices – up to 1.9-times current prices.

Market prices for frequency regulation on regional transmission organization (RTO) PJM’s power grid recently reached as high as $14.92 per megawatt-hour (MWh) from January to October 2012, $36.52/MWh from October to December 2012, and $33.87/MWh from January to March 2013, Theile pointed out.

Using the Brilliant 1.6-100’s integrated battery storage capabilities means wind farm operators can balance the wind-generated electricity they produce with grid load at under $1 per megawatt-hour, according to GE Power & Water. Moreover, the system’s “advanced forecasting algorithms and a small amount of short-term storage dramatically reduces the need to carry spinning reserves and frequency regulation for wind power,” Longtin added.

When it comes to battery chemistry, GE Power & Wind is agnostic, he explained. The sodium-nickel chloride GE Durathon batteries incorporated in the Brilliant 1.6-100 prototype at Tehachapi can range from 20–70 kilowatt-hours (kWh) in energy capacity, about 25-50 kWh per turbine. GE and wind farm operators might choose to install alternative batteries, such as Li-ion batteries, at wind farm sites where operating and grid power market conditions differ, offering wind farm operators a customized solution.

On-Site At GE Research In The Tehachapi Mountains: A Proving Ground For Wind Turbine Technology

GE Research Wind Turbine Testing Site at Tehachapi; Credit: A. Burger/Clean Technica

GE Research Wind Turbine Testing Site at Tehachapi.
Credit: A. Burger/CleanTechnica

The GE Research site outside Tehachapi, California has been serving as a wind turbine proving ground since the 1980s, a history that is on exhibit in an on-site museum. GE acquired its part of the vast property back in 2002 in the wake of the Enron scandal, when it acquired the assets of Enron Wind Systems, which in turn acquired the property when it bought up the Zond Corporation in 1997.

One of the first GE 1.5–77 wind turbines was erected on site in 1998–1999, and the company is gearing up to erect a prototype space-frame wind tower there this summer. Besides serving as a wind turbine research center, employees at the Tehachapi facility also assemble machine heads for GE wind turbines.

All told, today, GE Renewable Energy employs some 3,000 people around the world. Drawing on human resources and experience spanning the industrial engineering giant’s worldwide operations, some 80% of the employees at GE Global Research centers hold PhDs.

The design specs for the Brilliant 1.6-100’s Durathon battery bank, for instance, came out of GE’s transportation unit, where GE’s smart, hybrid locomotives were first developed. Aerodynamic design features incorporated in the 1.6-100’s design were the result of work originally undertaken in GE’s aviation and gas turbine divisions, as were advances in integrating turbines with battery storage, Longtin explained.

A view of the ridge line above the GE research center (pictured above) attests to the site’s long history and the advances that have been made since the ’80s, as well as to the long life of wind turbines. It’s practically carpeted with wind turbines of varying age, design, capacity, and make – from the latest, utility-scale GE Brilliant 1.6-100 to Vestas V15/65s, V17/90s and other smaller scale turbines with capacities ranging from 65–200kW that date back to the 1980s… and continue to spin.

For Part 3 in this 3-part series, coming tomorrow, keep an eye on CleanTechnica or our GE Brilliant Wind Turbine archives.

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About the Author

I’ve been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

  • bobmaginnis

    So if the battery capacity is 70 kWh, and the turbine produces 1,600 kWh per hour, then it is good for 0.04375 of hour, or 2.625 minutes.

    • Bob_Wallace

      It’s a brilliant turbine so it must have had some very bright engineers working on it.

      Apparently that was the sweet spot for storage at this point in time. All they needed for the output smoothing they needed to achieve.

      “Using the Brilliant 1.6-100′s integrated battery storage capabilities
      means wind farm operators can balance the wind-generated electricity
      they produce with grid load at under $1 per megawatt-hour….”

      That’s a tenth of a penny per kWh.

      • marque2

        Yeah, but by balance most of us think over a 24 hour period. What they meant in the article is balance over wind gusts.

  • JamesWimberley

    GE are doubtless gratefu lfor the free PR. How does the latest GE offering compare with the competition?

    • Bob_Wallace

      James, have you ever considered putting some sugar in your lemonade?

      • Derp

        dw bob, james works for Vestas

        • Bob_Wallace

          Unless you know that for a fact please take it down.

      • marque2

        He uses Stevia because it costs 10x as much for the same sweetness, and then demands government give him food stamps to help subsidize the costs.

    • ab

      You might view this as free PR, but it provides accurate, more detailed information on new wind power technology as presented by GE..It’s open for debate and discussion…

      And just to add more in the way of full disclosure: GE opened up its doors, invited a group of reporters to visit Tehachapi and hear from its project team…They picked up the tab, making it possible for a CT journalist to participate…

      I imagine CT would be happy to cover Vestas or any other company genuinely dedicated to advancing renewable energy, clean technology and social-ecological sustainability, and willing to make it possible for smaller, independent blogs and information service providers to do so…

      • marque2

        You know that GE purchased this division from Enron? The group that was trying to manipulate our power prices so these wind engines seemed feasible? I guess you didn’t.

    • ab

      The information GE presented during the site tour didn’t go unquestioned or unchallenged during the site tour, and it’s open for further discussion and debate right here…It does lay out their case and where they’re heading with their current R&D efforts, a prerequisite for setting the stage for feedback from outside GE….

  • Cosmo

    Perhaps you could address the millions of birds killed in the turbines!

    • Bob_Wallace


      Highest estimates are that in 2012 there were 573,000 birds killed by wind turbines. That number is an outlier which was published in March of this year and was not based on actual kill counts but on “assumptions”. It’s as much as 17x higher than research papers based on actual counts. We’ll have to wait a while to see how the scientific community treats that paper.

      But let’s go with it. A bit over 1/2 million. Let’s err on the side that makes wind as bad as possible.

      And let’s put it in perspective.

      Domestic cats in the United States kill up to 3.7 billion birds each year. (6,457x wind)

      Collisions with buildings kill 976 million birds each year. (1,703x wind)

      Collisions with vehicles kill 380 million birds each year. (663x wind)

      Collisions with communication towers kill 174 million each year. (304x wind)

      Poisoning kills 72 million bird each year. (126x wind)

      The Exxon Valdez spill killed a half million birds.

      Conclusion: Wind turbines are a tiny, tiny cause of bird death.

      But bird deaths aren’t a good thing regardless of the numbers. So why don’t we stick with coal and nuclear energy to save birds? Let’s check to see if that would work.

      Based on bird kills per gigawatt hour of electricity produced.

      Wind farms kill roughly 0.27 birds per GWh.

      Nuclear plants kill about 0.6 birds per GWh. (2.2x wind)

      Fossil-fueled power stations kill about 9.4 birds per GWh. (34.8x wind)

      OK, so now we know that wind farms are not one of our birds’ big problems. And we know that closing nuclear and coal plants and replacing them with wind farms would be better for the birds. Should we stop there?

      No, we can make wind farms even safer for birds.

      In 2009 there were 12.5 bird kills per MW installed wind capacity.

      In 2012 there were 9.5 bird kills per MW installed wind capacity.

      That’s a 24% decrease. A very major improvement in bird safety. And we aren’t done yet.

      • Ivor O’Connor


      • MorinMoss

        The number for cats is 10x higher that what was listed in the 2005 report from US Fish & Wildlife

        • Bob_Wallace

          The number ranges from source to source are enormous.

          But across sources it is clear that wind turbines kill only a tiny, tiny number of birds compared to the real bird killers.

          • marque2

            It is true that windows kill more birds than turbines, but you have to consider several things.
            1: what if there were 100x the turbines? That is what eco folks want. It is great to say that only 10000 birds are killed a year compared to 1 billion by cats in the USA when you have only one turbine running, but we are talking about putting up enough to create significant electric power for the grid. What then?

            2: What is the number of birds killed per unit of output. Seems like Wind kills more birds per kilowatt hour than any other energy system I know of.

          • Bob_Wallace

            You’re asking the right question – how do bird deaths per unit of electricity produced compare for wind and other generation technologies.

            Based on bird kills per gigawatt hour of electricity produced.

            Wind farms kill roughly 0.27 birds per GWh.

            Nuclear plants kill about 0.6 birds per GWh. (2.2x wind)

            Fossil-fueled power stations kill about 9.4 birds per GWh. (34.8x wind)


            Based on that data, the faster we can install wind turbines and shut down thermal plants, the better it will be for birds.

            The bird kill comparisons between wind and buildings/hunters/cars/cats serve to put overall bird deaths into perspective. They show us where we might be most successful in lowering bird deaths.

            Domestic cats in the United States kill up to 3.7 billion birds each year. (6,457x wind)


            Collisions with buildings kill 976 million birds each year. (1,703x wind)


            Collisions with vehicles kill 380 million birds each year. (663x wind)


    • JimBouton

      Seriously, do YOU really give a crap about birds?

      Or, do you just dislike clean energy. At least be honest about it.

      • ab

        Have you seen landscapes filled with drilling rigs, or large mines?!! Puhlease…

        • JimBouton

          Yes. I live in Texas. What does that have to do with whether a person really cares about bird deaths.

          If your point is that wind turbines don’t look aesthetically pleasing, then at least that might be a valid complaint. However, most of the wind turbines in Texas are located in west Texas where there really is not a lot of landscape that is worth looking at.

          • Ray

            Human and planet health out trump bird health. It’s not about money all the time.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m really confused.

            It seemed to me that Jim was supporting wind in his comment to Cosmo.

            And that ab’s (Andrew’s) comment was misplaced or poorly stated.

            Human, planet and bird health are intertwined.

          • ab

            Intended point was that any fossil fuel drilling or mining boom has to have much greater negative effects, not to mention the aesthetics…I’d take a wind farm or solar field any day…

          • JimBouton

            Okay, I think we are agreeing on the same point. 🙂

    • jeffhre

      Perhaps you could address the billions of birds killed by thermal plants?

  • Steeple

    This is great news. I guess we can stop funding subsidies for wind given these developments.

    • Others

      Millions of birds and fishes were killed by the pollution from coal and oil, and compared to this the birds killed by wind will be much lesser.

      Besides the latest wind turbines have blades that does not kill birds.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “Besides the latest wind turbines have blades that does not kill birds.”


        • JamesWimberley

          Crashing into any blade at speed can still kill a bird. But modern turbines are much taller, and their bigger rotors turn more slowly. That, plus a minimum amount of attention to migratory flight paths, is enough to lower the kill count over time. I agree with Bob that this is a non-issue today.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tip speed for these long blades is pretty fast.

            There’s some indication that migratory birds alter their paths to avoid offshore wind farms.

            Just tidbits…

          • marque2

            James info is basically bogus.

          • marque2

            It isn’t just the blade that kills the bird it is also the difference in pressures caused by the blades. It is nice to know that higher towers kill fewer birds however. Progress I guess, at the cost of even greater subsidies.

        • marque2

          They must be made of Nerf.

      • marque2

        Really, show me the bodies. I have heard better arguments that more birds are killed by cars than windmills, and sometimes birds crash into powerplants randomly, but per unit output of power, windmills are the winners by far.

        Just because some eco nut makes an assertion, doesn’t mean it is true.

    • Bob_Wallace

      We could. But that would not be the smart thing to do.

      As long as fossil fuels suck from the government teat and aren’t required to pay for the damage they cause we should at least help wind out a bit.

      Plus subsidies for wind means that turbines will get installed at a higher rate. That lets us close down coal plants faster and saves us very significant tax and health insurance premium dollars.

      Subsidies for wind and solar are public investments that are giving us very high rates of returns.

      • Steeple

        Well if they are earning high rates of return, then we should accelerate our investment and put up wind turbines wherever feasible. But alas they aren’t good investments and thus need direct subsidies as well as huge indirect subsidies in the form of the huge transmission lines needed to get this power to a demand sink.

        Wind continues to be a rathole. We should spend our resources on solar, which is much more promising in every respect.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Personally, I’m getting tired of your wind subsidy bullshit.

          The subsidies that wind gets are only partial playing field levelers which allow it to compete against much heavier subsidized fossil fuel and nuclear generation.

          Solar is very promising. But solar is certainly not more promising in every respect. Solar’s hours of production are greatly limited compared to wind which means that were we to attempt to run our grids on solar without wind our storage needs would be enormously larger than with wind.

          • marque2

            Fossil fuels are not subsidized at all. Please show me where and how fossil fuels are subsidized. Fact is they are anti subsidized by being forced to pay a 45% corporate tax when all other companies pay only 38%

            The subsidies that are complained about are normal accounting techniques like FIFO which probably 70% of companies use for inventory, and depreciation of capital equipment, which all companies use and which is in fact a way for the government to get more taxes since companies should be able to write off all expenses when they purchase equipment.

          • demockracy

            All companies pay the same corporate tax rate. Oil subsidies are everything from the depletion allowance (a tax break) to the military protection of overseas oilfields and shipping lanes. Since U.S. petroleum production peaked in 1971 it’s not hard to figure out why meddling in the Middle East has become so popular with presidents whose campaigns are funded by conventional energy producers.

            Not too long ago, the Financial Times estimated the subsidy for petroleum at $600 billion annually. The World Resources Institute estimated the U.S. subsidy at $300 billion annually. The last time I looked, renewal subsidies were orders of magnitude smaller.

            …and these subsidy calculations do not include the pollution / global warming externalities which, when ignored, amount to additional subsidy.

            So no…not normal accounting. Subsidy. Heaviest subsidies: for Nuclear.

          • Bob_Wallace

            ” Financial Times estimated the subsidy for petroleum at $600 billion annually. The World Resources Institute estimated the U.S. subsidy at $300 billion annually.”

            I’d like those links for my collection, please.

            Between 1947 and 1999 nuclear received average annual subsidies of $3.50 billion. ($185.6 billion.)

            Between 1994 and 2009 renewables received average annual subsidies of $0.37 billion. ($5.5 billion.)

            Nuclear received 10x as much in subsidies during its first 15 years as did renewables.


            The annual total is higher for 2010 forward because we’re installing a lot more wind and solar.

            Both wind and solar subsidies are time limited with solar going away in 2017.

          • demockracy

            Sorry, the wri.org publication I’m citing hard copy from 1989, although you can look at the document here: http://pdf.wri.org/moneytoburn_bw.pdf… and see several subsidy references.

            For Financial Times, the best I can find is http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/565be45c-6e9d-11e1-a82d-00144feab49a.html#axzz2bJyfSbpH

            You will probably have to register to see that link.

          • eveee

            Here’s a link comparing sources over the first 15 years.

            In inflation-adjusted dollars, nuclear spending averaged $3.3 billion over the first 15 years of subsidy life, and O&G subsidies averaged $1.8 billion, while renewables averaged less than $0.4 billion.


            From EIA, the 2011 world FF subsidy was 528 billion.


          • Bob_Wallace


            Your first link is broken.

          • jeffhre

            FIFO? Are you serious?

            “The oil and gas industry has been enjoying average annual subsidies and tax breaks of $4.86 billion in today’s dollars since 1918, according to a 2011 analysis by DBL Investors, a venture capital firm. The nuclear industry, DBL found, benefited from an average of $3.5 billion a year in subsidies from 1947 to 1999. And coal, which has been getting federal and state subsidies since the early 1800s, currently receives at least $3.2 billion a year, according to a 2011 Harvard study.”

            “Renewables, on the other hand, averaged only $370 million a year in subsidies between 1994 and 2009, according to DBL. The 2009 stimulus package did provide $21 billion for renewables, but that support barely began to balance the scales that still tilt toward fossil fuels. Just last December, for example, Congress allowed a key wind industry tax break to expire, but it continues to support massive subsidies for coal, oil and gas.”

            “Worldwide, oil and fossil fuel companies received just over $409 Billion dollars in subsidies last year. The US isn’t one of the worst offenders, though, as OPEC members spent a lot more than we did. However, we still spent more to subsidize our fossil fuel companies than our alternative energy companies. The idea behind subsidizing alt fuels is to “prime the pump”. I don’t really understand the idea behind spending more to subsidize established, profitable companies in a mature industry.

            Most of the support for fossil fuels is in the form of tax credits, since they are already massively profitable. Just a few off the top of my head:

            1. Energy companies get a 15% tax credit for all expenditures related to “advanced” recovery methods. Example: An oil company uses fracking instead of an old-fashioned oil well.
            2. Refineries can expense 50% of the cost of capital equipment.
            3. coal mines can expense long-term investments in equipment if it’s considered safer than their previous equipment.
            4. FERD, paid for by the federal government, finances research into fossil fuel technologies
            5. Tax credit to coal companies for each btu-barrel equivalent of coke produced
            6. Tax credit for shale oil production
            7. Refined coal tax credit
            8. Native American Coal credit
            9. Capital Gains treatment for royalties on coal

            10. Integrated natural gas and oil companies can deduct 70% of exploration and development costs for wages, machinery, unsalvageable material, and grading expenses involved in drilling a well.
            11. Percentage depletion of profits, up to 100% for some marginal wells
            12. accelerated depreciation for gas pipelines
            13. Unlimited “passive losses”: There is no limit to the amounts fossil fuel companies can claim for loss of rent on properties where their activities prevent them from leasing the land for other purposes.
            14. Expensing of up to 50% of the cost of real property used for oil or coal development
            15. Aid to Small Refiners program
            16. Nearly every state with a fossil fuel industry has quite a few tax credits and incentives available.” – compiled by George Craig

            Some, which were collected, from a very long list. Many are “similar” to other companies, but note that the limits and rates are comparatively very high.

        • Turboblocke

          Check out the merit order effect: renewables lower wholesale prices.

          Solar and wind complement each other: peak solar in summer, peak wind in winter.

          • Steeple

            Peak wind is in Spring and Fall when Power demand is at its seasonal lowest. Intraday, wind generates more at night and less during the day. So wind is constantly out of sync both daily and seasonally. These are facts that Bob appears weary of hearing. Meanwhile, our national peak electricity demand occurs on hot summer afternoons. But if we must continue to reward the crony capitalists at GE with their sunk investments in Wind and CFLs, let it be done.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Peak wind is in Spring and Fall when Power demand is at its seasonal
            lowest. Intraday, wind generates more at night and less during the day.”

            Solar peaks in the middle of the day and during the summer. In many places it doesn’t produce too well in the winter and hardly ever at night.

            Hydro generally peaks in the spring and is lowest in the fall.

            Tides ebb and flow in a cyclical pattern, the timing of which varies from geographical location to location.

            “Gosh, Superman, how will we ever deal with all that?”

            “With planning, Jimmy. With planning, storage, dispatchable generation and load-shifting. And the more varied our inputs and the wider our collection area the easier it will be.”

            “Thank FSM, smart people put subsidies in place so that we could get the cost renewable energy down to cheap.”

          • Steeple

            I’ll use facts instead of script. Let me know if you cant find the seasonal summer peaks on the graphs.


            Since electricity demand plummets at night, I’ll take that as a weakness for solar. Given that solar wins on economics, proximity to demand, passivity on landscape and noise pollution, and load following; my vote remains with solar. But Bob seems to be employed in the advancement of Wind, and a guy has to make a buck, right?

            Thankfully, we have the resources of reliable fossil fuels to balance the US grid. In Bobland, they would probably do it differently.

          • Derp

            wind cycles depend on location.

            the residential load at twilight is nicely matched with sea breeze

          • Bob_Wallace

            And on the West Coast by Wyoming wind.

            That’s why we’re working on getting new HVDC transmission from Wyoming wind farms tied to the Pacific and Intermountain Interties.

            Offshore wind is going to be valuable because it has both day and night output peaks.

          • marque2

            Wow so now we are going to need to build transmission lines everywhere from East coast to west so that California can have wind power all day long.

            You know how much destruction we get from the environment by mining copper, and steel and building all those towers and drilling and digging to build them.

            Seems like an untenable plan. Besides it is pretty hard to figure out where an electron has come from. In fact science has not figured out a way to do it yet.

          • eveee

            Exaggerate much? Wyoming an east coast state? When you compare futures, you need context. Renewables or…. More coal? Conservation is good, too. But comparing, reneables use less materials and are cheaper and cleaner.

          • marque2

            Actually by just about any measure renewables use more natural resources and tax the environment more. Cost is a good measure of environmental taxation. If it costs 5¢ per kWh using natural gas and 23¢ per kWh using a windmill I can guarantee the windmill uses more natural resources to generate power and does more environmental damage. They use a lot more steel per kWh and they use rare earth metals from China – where China has created a 100 square mile lake filled with toxic tailings. And then with most systems you need to build Natural gas backup plants for 80% of the power or create battery storage with more rare and toxic elements.

            There is no such thing as a free lunch.

            As for wind generation Wyoming isn’t exactly close to LA or phoenix. It is on the other side of the country (way north vs way south. And there are only a handful of practical ways to get the power down. You can’t bird fly it because the Rockies and Sierras are in the way.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “If it costs 5¢ per kWh using natural gas and 23¢ per kWh using a windmill”

            Natural gas produced electricity is, best I can tell, running in the 4c to 5c/kWh range.

            Wind, from wind turbines, is selling without subsidies for just under 4c/kWh.

            “Wyoming isn’t exactly close to LA or phoenix.”

            Wyoming is close to both the Intermountain Intertie and Pacific Intertie, two existing HVDC transmission lines. A relatively short run will connect Wyoming wind to the West Coast.

            There is no free lunch. There are also facts. Try to find some.

          • ab

            Working to balance and make use a diversified mix of renewables and eliminating fossil fuels is the best way forward IMHO…

          • marque2

            Why? and how will that work?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Well, it doesn’t give solar a win. It makes solar the best source for daytime demand and wind the best for nighttime demand.

            If you want to set up your own grid and run it on nothing but solar you’re free to do that. But you’re going to be spending more for generation and storage than grids run on a mix of inputs.

            You can drop that “buck” stuff. It doesn’t belong here.

          • eveee

            What? Electricity demand falls at night and that’s a weakness for solar? Have you thought about that?

          • jeffhre

            LOL, thought?

          • marque2

            Not with planning, with power outages. If we really want to go all natural we will need to tolerate more blackouts and periods without power. They wouldn’t necessarily be long and we would get wind alerts – wind down today, don’t show up to work, come in tomorrow.

            If we are willing to tolerate this then lets go ahead with renewables.

            But is it really worth it? We pay 4 – 5x the cost for our power and then have about 10 – 20 days a year where we have to miss work. I don’t think so. Not to cure a fictitious problem caused by the CO2 bogeyman.

          • Turboblocke

            marque2: you are clearly a CC denier and have been brainwashed by too many myths on renewables.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s far removed from reality.

            Adding renewables to a grid does not make it less reliable, in fact it should make it more reliable.

            Managing supply and demand is the same regardless of the inputs – fossil, nuclear or renewables. Grid managers must have adequate standby and backup power. With renewables the job is easier because it’s simple to observe cloud patterns, time of day and wind systems. It’s much more difficult dealing with a large thermal plant going off line without prior notice.

            If you know the Sun is going to set at a certain time then you can prearrange your fill-in. If a reactor goes off line in an earthquake or grid surge you’re scrambling to avoid a wide scale blackout.

            As for cost, here’s how costs stack up from least to most expensive –

            Combined cycle natural gas
            Onshore wind
            Existing/paid off nuclear

            PV solar
            New nuclear
            Coal, old and new

            Natural gas is only a penny or so cheaper than wind. The cost of gas is rising, the cost of gas is falling.

            Existing nuclear is in third place due to heavy subsidies.

            PV solar prices are falling rapidly. PV is in fourth place without subsidies.

            New nuclear is too expensive to consider, as is new coal.

            Old coal is very expensive if one does full accounting, adds in the health and environmental damage costs.

            So, 4-5x the cost with a renewable grid?

            No, cheaper power. Wind and solar will soon be our two cheapest ways to produce electricity.

            RE: climate change. Search for a clue. Someone sold you a load of bull.

          • eveee

            You mean like all the blackouts in Germany… Oh wait, they have ten times US reliability and better than all other European nations.

          • jeffhre

            Ahhh, CO2 is good, got it!

          • marque2

            Actually it is. A 30% increase in crop yield over the past week 30 years has been attributed to CO2. And considering that there has been a pause in warming over 19 years and a cooling trend over 12 – it seems like the great powers that have been attributed to CO2 fail to exist. It was once a monster with positive feedbacks that could increase our temperatures up to 10degc in a century by some models. Now it is a week force whose lack of effect is best Inc desperately explained away by trivial difference in ocean floes and what knot (there are 30 major excuses so far)

          • Turboblocke

            Peak wind is in Winter and Spring according to the National Renewable Energy Lab: http://rredc.nrel.gov/wind/pubs/atlas/chp2.html#seasonal See section on Seasonal Variations of Wind Resource. Because there is considerable seasonal variation in the wind energy resource, with maxima in winter and spring and minima in summer and autumn throughout most of the contiguous United States, assessments of the wind energy resource have also been produced for each season…

          • marque2

            The real compliment is that solar works during the day, and Wind picks up in the afternoon to evening, and then tapers off. Then you switch to standard baseline power units which are overgenerating at night anyway.

            You are right about the peak energy demand it is usually in July and August, and peak averages around 3 pm – Solar’s peak is at 12 noon.

          • jeffhre

            Ahhh, CFL’s are bad too, got it!

          • marque2

            How do renewable lower wholesale prices? Wherever renewable are enforced in a big way electric prices go up.

            And you are wrong about how Solar and Wind compliment each other, Solar during the day, Wind in the evening. You can’t even get the facts straight.

          • Turboblocke

            Your wrong again: check out the “merit order effect”.

            Duh: It’s obvious that solar only works during the day. The wind can blow at any time: however there is more wind generally in winter and more sun in winter, so they complEment each other over the course of the year.

          • marque2

            Sorry but it is well known that there is less – or even no wind in the morning – it picks up in the afternoon and dies.down.again at night in most places. As for wind any time yes the cycle breaks when there are storms. – but we can’t depend on storms for constant energy.

            Sorry but you were wrong and I caught it. Blathering on more doesn’t change the facts.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I bet you’re making the mistake of thinking that we would ever attempt to run a grid with 100% wind (or 100% solar) generation and no storage or dispatchable fill-in generation.

            If you don’t understand how grids operate then you say things that don’t make sense.

          • Turboblocke

            Marque2: In general wind complements solar. Your contention that wind is significantly weaker or non-existant in the morning is not generally true. Go to this website and pick a number of towns at random, then come back and apologise: http://www.xcweather.co.uk/GB/forecast

          • eveee

            Yes and you are blathering merrily spouting unreferenced canards. Wind is not the same everywhere, daily or seasonally. Don’t try to characterize it that way and you won’t make so many misstatements. California wind, over half at Tehachapi, and near the ocean, has a diurnal pattern. So does some Texas wind. It does not peak in the afternoon. Other locations are different. Who was caught?

          • demockracy

            Price of a barrel of oil in 1971: $1.75

            Price of a barrel of oil in 2013: $100 (more or less)

            Notice a trend? Could [gasp!] conventional energy sources be getting more expensive? Could fracking and deep water drilling be the source of the expanded proven reserves?

        • Matt

          By your definition oil hasn’t been a good investment for over a 100 years. They not only get direct support from governments, but can form “special” sub-companies that pay no tax.

          • marque2

            Your facts are actually eco lies.

            They aren’t getting any subsidies. Please show your facts. They actually have to pay more taxes than other companies.

          • Turboblocke

            You’ll find a report on global FF subsidies here: http://www.oecd.org/site/tadffss/
            Read, understand and learn.

      • marque2

        It is always the smart thing to do to stop subsidies. Believe it or not all the technology they are hyping in this article have been around since the 1970’s – if this was all practical and worthwhile to use batteries it would already be done. It is cheaper just to build a parallel Natural gas plant run it all the time and pretend the power is actually coming from the wind turbine – which is really how things are run today.

        Notice all the numerical slight of hands. No total cost, no cost comparison. It is just a junk article.

        • demockracy

          Nope. Fossil fuel is orders of magnitude more expensive than it was in the 1970s. In 1971, a barrel of oil cost $1.75. Currently it’s around $100.

          The earth is not a planet with a creamy nougat of petroleum. Google “Peak Oil” to get the details. U.S. domestic oil production peaked in 1971, and has never returned to near peak (30% imports then…50 – 70% now).

          And no, the computer management technology, turbine and battery design aren’t radically new, but they’re certainly important refinements.

    • ab

      And fossil fuels as well…

    • marque2

      It will never happen. The subsidies are really favors for political support. GE gets to sell garbage and they get direct subsidies and indirect subsidies from the government.

      Meanwhile greenies claim oil companies get subsidies (they were all dropped in the 1970’s) and claim normal accounting techniques every company uses are the subsidies (FIFO accounting, depreciation of equipment) and ignore that the tax rate for oil companies is 45% when all other companies have a 38% tax rate.

      The indoctrination of greenies is really sad.

      • demockracy

        No, the subsidies weren’t dropped. See the Financial Times or World Resources Institute reports.

        You’ve got the tax rates backward, incidentally. Oil companies get the depletion allowance, which is a tax break not available to companies not doing extraction. Sure, it’s available to miners too, but 97% of it is claimed by petroleum companies.

        As for the “different tax rates…” … as far as I can tell you just made that up.

        Meanwhile, corporate tax collections are at 60-year lows, corporate profits are at 60-year highs. Where are the jobs from the magical “job creators?”

        See http://robertreich.org/post/57431623768

    • Jason

      Why? Have we stopped subsidizing fossil fuels which have been the most profitable industry for years! I just love the critics who say,” OH wind and solar have to be subsidized so we should never do them! ” and never explain why we are subsidizing the fossil fuel industry to the tune of billions and billions per annum? explain the rational thought process for the sentiment embodied within your comment Steeple. Explain to us the complex rationale that enables one industry to walk away with billions long after it has shown itself to be super profit worthy and why we should not subsidize an industry that has yet to reach maturity? Is there any rational reasons?

  • Ted S

    Nice article. I had trouble making time flow linearly in this sentence though, “GE acquired its part of the vast property back in the 1980s from Enron Wind, which in turn acquired the property when it bought up the Zond Corporation in 1997.”

    If GE acquired its part of the vast property back in the 1980s from Enron Wind, then Enron Wind would necessarily exist in the 1980’s. Enron Wind was formed in 1997 when Enron purchased Zond Corporation.

    Zond was founded in 1980 by Jim Dehlsen. Less than a year after founding, Zond constructed the first 10 wind turbines in Tehachapi.

    Possibly the sentence was supposed to be, “GE acquired its part of the vast property back in the 1980s from Zond Corporation. Enron Wind acquired the property when it purchased the Zond Corporation in 1997.”

    • ab

      Thanks, Ted…Checked on this, and indeed GE acquired Enron Wind Systems in 2002 after the Enron scandal, thereby acquiring the Tehachapi facility…Correcting in the article…

  • RobS

    Strictly speaking the headline “lower cost wind energy” is not quite true, the addition of storage capacity to these turbines will increase the cost but they will also increase the value of the electricity to grid operators and open up these wind farms to providing grid stabilisation services resulting in new revenue streams, so slightly more expensive but a lot more useful.

    • ab

      yes, and more profitable, as long as the added cost is more than offset by the additional revenue stream…

    • ab

      while the greater availability and efficiency of the 1.6-100 does lower costs…

    • the cost part comes in Part 3. this is the lead-up to it.

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