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July 25th, 2009

Pickens scraps plan to build $12B wind farm

Published on July 25th, 2009 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

T. Boone Pickens scrapped plans to build a $12 billion wind farm in the Texas Panhandle, even though he already spent $2 billion ordering 687 giant wind turbines, and $60 million promoting the plan.

The problem? The transmission lines can’t carry that much electricity.

That’s one of the dirty little secrets about wind power. It’s inconsistent. You have to design transmission lines that can carry a maximum load even though production reaches peak levels only about 10 percent of the time.

When the wind blows hard, they produce energy. When the wind doesn’t blow, they don’t. It’s the same problem with solar energy. When the sun is out, you get energy. When it’s cloudy (or night), you don’t.

Alternative energies like solar, wind and geothermal should play a growing role in our nation’s energy strategy. But realistically, it would take years for them to make a dent in our energy needs, particularly transportation, and power storage and power smoothing in one of the known hurdles. That’s why the DOE is investing projects that range from water-pumping/behind-dam systems, capacitor banks, and massive battery banks.

Pickens has a lot of common sense. Even though he hasn’t given up on wind energy, it’s nice to know that he won’t waste any more of his money on a project that just won’t work at this point.


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