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Gone with the Wind - # 9. 27 February 2014
We are already 16% of the way through 2014: amazing! One of the good things about this time of the year is that 2013 wind installation data is starting to come through. Yaaay. OK - a bit geeky.... nonetheless the stats paint a compelling global picture..

- Various Saskatoon wind news w/ article links 
- Lots going on around Canada (but minimal in SK) 
- 2013: a record year in the US 
- Records falling across Europe too...
- Financial data confirms continued decline in cost of wind  
- Grid studies: "Any country can reach 30% wind & solar

and... 

- A tale of two spills (one from the coal sector and the other from the wind industry). 

Other news? As ever there is lots. Take a gander at our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Local news 
We released three stellar infographics on carbon emissions by Provincewind potential given SK's land area and mortality rates associated with the different fuels used in our generation mix. We also updated our economic comparison chart to reflect the higher average wind speeds available in SK. 

In January we responded to a Star Phoenix editorial, which contained a number of inaccuracies about Saskatoon Community Wind. We noted that our finances are good and also that the subsidies advanced for Boundary Dam ($1,240 million + change) as well as the feasibility study for the DEEP Geothermal Project ($2-million) are vastly greater than the numbers we are talking about. Our response also discussed the superior economics associated with community ownership of wind energy. To date no reply. 

Paul Hanley wrote an excellent piece on our December summary of the most common anti-wind statements from 2013. His article became our most trafficked facebook post ever. And in a December letter to the Phoenix we noted that SK's 300 years of coal deposits are as nothing compared to 500 million years of wind reserves.(If 500 million years was represented by the distance from Stony Rapids to Regina: 300 years would be 72 centimetres).
We penned a letter to the Economist but it was not published.
Wind news from around Canada 
Ontario. Wind's contribution to electricity generation has doubled since 2009 and will double again by the end of this year to 7% (and then on to 11% by 2025). The Province announced  the closure of its last coal-fired power station and a judge issued a landmark ruling cracking down on non-expert wind experts (About time too!). 
Alberta has almost exactly the same land area as SK and from it already manages to generate 4X as much electricity using wind.
Manitoba announced plans to use its hydro to trade wind power from North Dakota via Minnesota.
Quebec issued calls for tender to procure 450 MW of wind (taking the total to 4,000 MW).
Nova Scotia continues to move steadily forward with its community-owned wind projects.
And meanwhile, back in Saskatchewan...cough cough .... SaskPower is conducting a review... of something ....apparently...

On a related note: a leaked report from top federal civil servants notes that more action is needed to combat climate change & manage its risks for communities and infrastructure. How impertinent! A funding cut will follow shortly.
Records broken South of the Border (again!)
The US PTC extension was delayed in 2013 following the usual efforts of the coal. oil & gas lobby (intensified as a result of coal's rapid decline). So and although it was a slow start to the year, 2013 nonetheless finished with an all-time record amount of wind under construction - 12,000 MW representing $25-billion of investment. This is almost as much as the 13,000 MW built in all of 2012 (which itself was a record year).

Texas finished its $5-billion cross state transmission project in December: this will bring 18,000 MW of wind from generation in the West to load in the East and, not surprisingly, its completion unleashed a wave of  new projects. At the end of 2013, Texas had more wind under construction than any other State even has installed today. Much more wind (and solar) is coming.  
Iowa, not content with wind generating 30% of its electricity (pushy folk those Hawkeyes) announced plans for a new transmission line to Illinois which will allow another 2,000 wind turbines.
Wyoming, not to be outdone, has plans for an $8-billion wind project - the largest in North America. Electricity from it will be sold to California: go figure.
Europe
2013 saw the second largest amount of wind energy installed ever - 2012 holds the record.
The slight year-on-year decline was due to regulatory and policy uncertainty. Nonetheless more wind was installed than any other technology (32% of the total vs. 27% in 2012). 72% of all capacity installed in 2013 was renewable and a summary of net capacity installations since 2000 shows a continent clearly in transition: major additions of wind, gas and solar PV and significant losses of nuclear, coal and fuel oil.
Wind turbines generated 8% of the EU's electricity in 2013 - up from 7% in 2012. Not too shabby!
Looking for country-specific data? Try this AWEA Blog...

And finally - the UK's just-released 'Community Energy Strategy': "Every community that wants to take forward an energy project should be able to do so."  
If nothing else: check out the introduction by the Energy Minister.
 
Wind energy economics

Industry pundits expect that, after many years of rapidly improving economics in wind and solar, 2014 will be the year when renewables gain broad recognition for their ability to compete directly with traditional fossil fuels.

That this process is already underway is supported by reports and/or statements from various financial institutions including Credit Suisse, UBS, Citibank and Goldman Sachs; to name but a few.

Private equity and hedge funds are increasingly using renewables as a high-quality/low risk bondWith good justification, Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge fund investor, announced that he would put $100-million into ensuring that the US 2014 mid-terms are all about climate change.
A fascinating analysis from the US Energy Information Administration shows that US states with more wind energy pay considerably LESS for their electricity.

Alternative energy is no longer 'alternative' and, as a consequence
 the patronising attitude, frequently employed by the hydrocarbon sector toward renewables, is evidence of that industry being increasingly out of touch with both the facts and public opinion.  

This Star Phoenix editorial, which dismissed Saskatoon Community Wind as 'well intentioned but naieve' might have been acceptable 10 years ago but today such comments need to be justified. In this instance that justification is noticeably absent.
Integration/Baseload/Intermittency 
That old chestnut: yes - detractors do like to go on about it!

Most notable was a report out yesterday from the Paris-based IEA. "Any country can reach a 30% share of wind & solar" and 'The challenges are not technical or economic, but institutional'.
For engineers amongst you w/ a subscription to the IEEE Power & Energy magazine, check out the November/December edition which was dedicated to a very informative 'Update on Wind Integration' which reached the same conclusion.
NERC's 2013 Reliability Report found (Page 48) "No significant reliability challenges arising from the integration of variable generation resources". A fascinating report from Europe shows the countries w/ most wind (Germany & Denmark) have the most reliable electricity grids.

An NREL study confirmed that active power control of wind turbines can lead to substantial improvements in power quality and a Spanish study reached similar conclusions.
A Tale of Two Spills: Wind and Coal 
A major air spill was reported from a wind turbine belonging to a wind-powered bar in North Carolina's outer banks. Clean-up crews were notified but couldn't find anything so went surfing.

Meanwhile over in West Virginia 30,000 litres of a toxic chemical, used to clean coal, leaked into the Elk River. 300,000 people had their drinking water cut off for several days. No surfing and apparently the fish were none too pleased either.
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