SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
1. Why the South is the Next Frontier for Wind Energy
New Technology, lower costs mean a promising future for Southern wind farms
On October 9, SACE will release a new analysis called Advanced Wind Technology: Elevated Opportunities for the South. Our findings, based on analysis of new turbine technology as well as several case studies, confirm that the South is the next frontier for wind energy development.
New wind turbine technology is a game changer for wind energy opportunities in the South. In just five years, the wind turbines have greatly evolved and are more suitable for our region. Wind turbine hub heights ranging from 360-460 feet (110-140 meters) are now available for wind developers. Taller turbines and longer blades are capable of capturing more wind, which results in harnessing more electricity and reducing costs.
Modern wind turbines make wind energy economically feasible in more areas across the South. Now with access to winds at greater heights, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee each contain more than 25,000 megawatts (MW) of wind energy potential, and a total estimated 134,000 MW of wind potential now exists within the Southern region. To put that number into perspective, that’s about half as much as the total installed electric utility capacity in the Southeast today!
This advancement in technology has led to lower costs for wind power. Wind energy is now one of the least expensive sources of new power generation in the country. Costs have declined by 39% over the past decade for wind speed areas averaging 6 meters per second (13.4 miles per hour), which applies to many areas in our region.
Our analysis additionally shows that while the Southeast is now ready for wind energy development, popular wind speed maps do not always reflect this potential. The coarse wind resource assessment maps that may be used to initially assess a site for wind farm development are often not accurate enough to identify ridge top wind resources. Our new analysis looks at case studies of wind development projects that show actual performance mu ch greater than one would determine based on coarse resource assessment maps.
One such case study that provides a great example of underestimated wind speed potential is the Southeast’s first and currently only wind farm, Buffalo Mountain. Located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the modern portion of the Buffalo Mountain wind farm was constructed in 2004 and contains 15 wind turbines. Actual output at the Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm is at least double what would be expected using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s 80-meter wind speed map. And, while Buffalo Mountain has performed to expectations, the addition of modern turbines with taller hub heights would greatly expand the wind farm’s electricity generation.
It’s important to understand that wind speed maps alone cannot predetermine the viability of a wind farm. In order to get accurate measurements, a meteorological tower or anemometer (a wind measurement device) needs to be installed to collect wind measurements for one to two years. There is still a strong need for updated resource assessment maps with taller hub heights that more accurately reflect wind energy opportunities in the region.
Please join us for a webinar on October 9, 2014 at 11AM as SACE staff release the report with cases studies that demonstrate why the South is the next frontier for the wind industry. To register, click here.
2. More Solar is Coming to North Carolina
Duke Energy announces new investments in solar energy for the state
This September, Duke Energy announced it will invest $500 million in new solar energy facilities across North Carolina, including direct ownership of 128 megawatts of utility-scale solar farms built at three sites, as well as power purchase agreements for an additional 150 MW of new solar energy from independent developers. According to a Duke spokesperson, these investments will elevate Duke’s standing as one of the top solar-powered utilities in the country and provide a significant percentage of the utility’s contribution to the North Carolina renewable energy portfolio standard.
SACE applauds Duke Energy’s announcement for advancing more solar development and investments in North Carolina. This is good news for clean energy in the Southeast. As our region is slowly realizing, solar energy continues to be an ever-increasingly cost-effective generation strategy for a Southeastern utility by generating clean energy with no fuel costs, no fuel volatility and no significant environmental impacts from its production.
While we are still studying the details of the agreements, this appears to be a step in the right direction for the state. We hope Duke will continue incorporating solar and other renewables into its generation portfolio and to embrace solar as part of the solution, not part of the problem. Stay tuned to our blog for updates as this story unfolds over the coming months!
This piece was written by SACE Communications Intern, Kelsey Adler, who went to New York to attend the march. You can read other, more general details about the event in our blog here.
On Sunday, September 21st, nearly 400,000 people and more than 1500 organizations attended The People’s Climate March, flocking to New York City to participate in what was the largest climate march in history with hopes of communicating the reality of climate change and its disastrous effects.
The rally could not have been more timely; later that week, 120 world leaders convened at the United Nations in New York City to discuss the problems resulting from increasing levels of carbon emissions and climate change. Marchers were joined by individuals from all over the world, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The People’s Climate March was one of 2,646 climate change events taking place that Sunday in 156 countries; all of these events were aiming to bring global attention to climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing my generation and the world.
As someone who has never participated in any sort of demonstrative march or protest, being flung into the largest climate march in history was sensory overload—in the absolute best way.
It all started around 11:30am Sunday morning. Thousands of excited marchers gathered at Central Park West wielding posters, donning costumes, waiting impatiently, ready to storm the gates and begin the two-mile route. The crowd was made up of a multitude of groups—the young, the old, mothers, grandparents, scientists, students, farmers, educators, celebrities, you name it—all pushing for a variety aspects of climate action, like supporting renewable energy, investing in organic farming, and moving away from fossil fuel dependency.
Still others were there to stand for climate justice and against environmental racism—issues that are hard to ignore, when it comes to the immediate and undeniable harm that climate change inflicts on people of the world. Members of indigenous communities, labor unions, and representatives of immigrants and the poor descended on New York City from around the world. Several of these marchers, whose lives were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, led the crowd down Central Park West, through 6th avenue, 42nd street, and 11th avenue, finally dispersing somewhere around 34th street.
To put it simply, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I decided to make the long trek to NYC. Sure, I knew that it was going to be a great march, and I knew there would be hundreds of thousands of people. And I knew that we would all have the same understanding of the urgent need to act against climate change…but I didn’t, really.
I’ve never in my life felt the same sense of purpose, of meaning, of power, as I did on the day of the People’s Climate March. One of the most moving parts of the day came at 1:00pm, the scheduled moment of silence. The roar of the crowd was hushed in seconds, as a single voice spoke to the masses. With raised arms and vigor in our eyes, everything stopped. In unison, we lent our hearts to the people suffering at this moment from the brutal effects of climate change, and I think that it was in this moment that reality truly sunk in for me. The people are real, the damage is real… and it’s time for the Southeast to notice. Though I definitely left a part of my heart in New York City, the rest is ready to fight.
Whether you work for a large corporation or a small office, donating through your place of employment gives you the opportunity to play an active role in improving quality of life in your community and throughout our region. By pledging even a small amount from each paycheck you will be making a great impact on how we produce and consume energy in the Southeast.
SACE is currently a proud member of the following workplace giving campaigns: EarthShare of Georgia, EarthShare of North Carolina, EarthShare of Florida and Community Shares of Tennessee. Each of these federations has been connecting environmental and community organizations to participating businesses for over twenty years.
Click on the links above to see if your workplace currently offers giving opportunities to SACE and other environmental organizations in your area. If your workplace is not yet involved, we would love to help you start a campaign. To find out more information about workplace giving and ways you can get involved, please contact Erin Cameron, Development & Outreach Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, 828-254-6776.