Friday, September 9, 2011

More wind power in Duke's future

Wind energy makes a surprise appearance in Duke Energy's 20-year planning forecast for the Carolinas, which was updated this month.

Last year's Integrated Resource Plan showed a mere one-half megawatt of wind power helping meet Duke's summer peak demand, beginning in 2013. This year it shows 15 megawatts, starting now. By 2030, the new IRP has wind producing 62 megawatts, compared to 22 megawatts in the previous plan.

The change has less to do with an explosion of wind power -- there still aren't any commercial farms operating in North Carolina -- than with uncertainties about biomass, says Duke spokesman Jason Walls. The organic fuel is expected to supply the bulk of the clean energy mandated by a 2007 state law.

Scientists debate the climate impacts of burning wood, farm wastes and other forms of biomass. The Environmental Protection Agency in January put off for three years any greenhouse-gas permits for biomass. Duke cites "continuing federal regulatory uncertainty" in reducing the amount of power it expects to get from biomass over the next few years.

But, the plan adds: "The projected increase in wind resources is driven by the company's observations that land-based wind developers are presently pursuing projects of significant size in North Carolina. The company believes it is reasonable to expect that land-based wind will be developed in both North and South Carolina (by 2030) to a degree that exceeds what was expected a year ago."

Iberdrola Renewables filed an application in January for a 300-megawatt wind project in the state's northeastern corner that would be the state's first commercial-scale wind farm. A second company, Invenergy, plans to build an 80-megawatt wind farm in coastal Beaufort County.

Duke is also allowed to buy proxies, called renewable energy certificates, for wind energy produced in other states.


Anonymous said...

We should be producing dozens of gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2020. If Duke doesn't want to go this way, let's open up the market to energy companies who will.

Walt from Winston said...

"We should be producing dozens of gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2020."

Hear me now and belieive me later. The biggest opponents to this idea will be enviromentalists (destruction of habitat from towers and underwater transmission cables) and NIMBY homeowners (unsightly substations on shore).

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