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The G.O.R.E. Project: The Race to Build the Biggest Wind Farm

BusinessWeek’s Green Business section has a post from Adam Aston [1] detailing the new race to build the nation’s largest wind farm—and the leading contender is…an oil man!

From the article:

UK-based New Energy Finance released a note today summarizing some news in the wind market that really blew my mind. In fairly short order, the US has become home to the largest wind farms in the world. The title today is held by Texas’ Horse Hollow wind farm with 291 turbines and 735MW of capacity. The way things are going, that’s going to look meager in a few years. Oil-billionaire and newly minted green evangelist T. Boone Pickens (father of the Pickens Plan) is proceeding with a 4,000MW project in the Texas panhandle. Last week, an even bigger project stole Picken’s thunder: BP Alternative Energy and Clipper Windpower, a turbine maker, announced a project to treble their Rolling Thunder project in South Dakota to over 5,000MW. The project would involve some 2,000 turbines.

It’s great to see that wind is now being taken seriously. The technology has been around long enough and matured to a point that it is now being seen as proven in the eyes of big-money energy investors. I’m also glad to see such initiatives taking root in the heart of Oil Country.

The only problem I see with giant wind farms is that they do little to help decentralize our energy production. This means that electricity created in southern Texas will need to travel hundreds—if not thousands—of miles over inefficient energy lines before it reaches its point of use. This could mean that a large portion of the electricity generated could be lost to system inefficiencies.

The solution is community wind projects, if possible. Or even a wind tower for every home (which we’ll cover for The GORE Project soon). SkyStream seems to be the leading manufacturer of residentially-sized wind turbines.

[Worth noting: a home wind turbine could just as easily be integrated into MIT’s ground-breaking energy storage system [2] as photovoltaic panels—allowing the production of electricity when the wind isn’t blowing.]

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