Wind farms up here in the Pacific Northwest may soon be shut down temporarily because there is no transmission capacity to move this green renewable power to where it is needed. A record snowfall in the mountains at the headwaters of the Columbia river system is about to begin melting and will send a surge of water down the river. Because this water cannot be sent over the spill ways without endangering already endangered Salmon and Steelhead fish it needs to be run through the turbines. There is just too much power for the regional markets and the existing transmission infrastructure to handle and thus wind farms are likely to be idled. What this exposes is the need for an improved Ultra high voltage long distance electric transmission network that is capable of moving surplus power from one region to another.
Recently there has been a lot of news about offshore wind power. The US government has released its long awaited federal regulations governing offshore wind farms, boosting the pace of activity in this sector and propelling it into the nations awareness and media spotlight (at least for a fortnight). As part of covering developments in this wind energy sector we are profiling some of the promising startups in the offshore wind energy sector.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has reported that in the 1rst quarter of this year 2,800 MW of new wind energy capacity was added to the nations existing stock. This is much needed good news for an industry reeling from frozen credit markets and the recession. In the first three months of this year (2009) the AWEA reported that approximately three dozen developers started wind farms in 15 states adding about twice the capacity that came on line last year during the same period. This is enough to power for more than 800,000 average American homes.