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Wind Energy Basics - Revised Edition

Wind Energy Basics

"Wind energy works and makes environmental sense—more so today than ever before—but consumers have to be on their guard," writes wind energy pioneer, expert, and advocate Paul Gipe in his newly revised Wind Energy Basics, Second Edition: A Guide to Home- and Community-Scale Wind-Energy Systems. Gipe has worked for over three decades in renewable energy, has authored seven books, and has lectured widely on wind energy and how to minimize its impact on the environment and the communities of which it is a part.

Gipe is excited to see so much new interest in wind and solar technology, saying "Let's put a renewable energy plant in everyone's back yard. Let's create an energy system for life. Let's do it." But, he is also adamant in guiding people to the right technologies and strategies apart from those who would "seize on the public's fascination with wind energy and sell them wind turbines that perform poorly at high cost." He has tested and documented the performance of small wind turbines, so his updated Wind Energy Basics is an important guide for anyone considering use of wind energy for home, business, or community systems.

"Paul Gipe is an independent, opinionated voice on wind energy, cutting right to the core on almost any wind energy topic. He analyzes the issues with uncompromising standards. He has no trouble sharing the story as he sees it, encouraging all to explore business models and policies that offer something more, something for all of us."

—Lisa Daniels, Executive Director, Windustry

Gipe is a visonary who views wind power as a realistic replacement for the bulk of oil-, coal-, and natural gas– fired electrical plants in the U.S., and as a new fuel for most of the cars in the nation to run on electricity. In this wide-ranging book, Gipe not only covers the basics for understanding how wind turbine technology operates and how to plan a project using it, he makes a broad case for a clean energy future explaining how sustainable energy solutions are doable, can be accomplished much sooner than most realize, and how it will help resuscitate our industrial infrastructure, create jobs, and generate economic opportunity.

For those who are interested in supporting wind energy, Gipe details the advantages of Community Wind projects, offers advice for renewable investment strategies, and explains how government policy could better support energy independence. He doubts the ability of tax incentives and net metering to advance renewables, and he advocates for the adoption of feed-in tarriffs that would guarantee rates and grid connections for independent power producers, following the policies that have been successfully deployed in European countries. "If you pay for it, it [renewable energy] will come."

Paul Gipe
Paul Gipe

Chapters include:
• Technology
• Wind Energy Basics
• Estimating Performance
• Siting
• Off the Grid
• Interconnection
• Community Wind
• Investing in Wind Energy
• The Challenge

Listen to or read a transcript of an interview with Paul Gipe at The Oil Drum on the Weekend Energy Listening podcast episode Wind Power with Paul Gipe. For more information about Paul Gipe, his work, and his books, visit his web site Wind-Works.org.

Analysis of Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariffs in the U.S.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report analyzing the impacts that state level feed-in tariff policies can have on the renewable energy industry across the country. The report uses data and reports from around the world to highlight the various benefits that a feed-in tariff type of policy can have on renewable energy development.

A feed-in tariff is an energy policy that provides for a guarantee of payment to renewable energy developers for the energy that is produced. This type of policy can be thought of as an advanced form of a production-based incentive because payments are made for the actual electricity produced and not for how much capacity is installed. The most common feed-in tariff payment is based on the actual levelized cost of renewable energy generation. This method of payment provides a price adequate to ensure a reasonable rate of return on for investors. 

The authors of the report delve into the various advantages of feed-in tariff policies and the number of challenges to implementing feed-in tariff policies in the U.S. The report also provides a review of the current state-level and utility-level feed-in tariff policies that are currently in place across the county and compares them with the successful models found in Europe. These states include Gainesville, Florida; various Wisconsin utilities; California; Vermont (report was written prior to passage of the state-wide feed-in tariff so this analysis focuses on the two utility-specific programs); Washington; and Oregon. The authors wrap up the report with a discussion of best practices for feed-in tariff policy design and implementation, followed by an analysis on how to use a feed-in tariff policy to achieve state renewable energy goals.

The authors highlight one of the most important elements of a feed-in tariff policy - that it allows for more participants in renewable energy project development. In their analysis the authors state that there are significant impacts of a feed-in tariff on developing community ownership, but it will depend on how the program is structured and payments determined. 

You can read the full report here (PDF).

Introduction to Landowner Wind Energy Associations

Have you been approached by a wind developer? Are you interested in leasing your land for wind development but want to make sure you are getting a fair deal?

This Introduction to Landowner Wind Energy Associations (LWEA) provides an overview to this model of landowner participation. A landowner wind energy association bridges the gap between full ownership participation and simply leasing your land. This model allows landowners to come together and combine their resources, which provides greater negotiating power with the developer. The association model can also be used to provide financial benefits to all landowners in the association, not just those who host the turbines. Download the two-page handout to learn more.

Landowner Guide to Evaluating a Wind Developer

This handout is designed to help landowners evaluate a wind developer before they sign an agreement. It is intended to provide a brief discussion of many topics and additional resources, including:

  • Where can I find information about a developer?
  • What makes or breaks a wind project?
  • Does the developer have the ability to finance the project?
  • What is the relationship of my wind resource to electricity power lines?
  • How will I get paid?

Click below to download the PDF file.

Wind Rights and Wrongs

This article reprint from Tierra Grande, April 2008, presents an overview of many issues regarding leasing your land to a wind developer. Topics covered include wind data, tax credits, royalties, severance clauses, surface rights and a host of other considerations. While focused on Texas, the article presents information that applies to all wind agreements in general and is useful for both landowners and attorneys.

Community Wind 101: A Primer for Policy-makers

Released by the 25' X 25' Alliance, The Energy Foundation and Harvesting Clean Energy, this report makes clear that community wind must be an integral part of the nation's energy strategy and lays out a set of public policies designed to grow local wind investment and ownership.

Specifically, Community Wind 101 finds:

  • Wind power economic benefits from local ownership can be multiplied in the range of two to three times or more compared to standard development models.
  • Community wind can play a pioneering role for all wind power and accelerate wind development by vastly diversifying the range of players who can invest.
  • Smaller investors cannot fully access federal tax incentives vital to wind development. Broadening the usefulness of these incentives and/or targeting incentives to community wind would significantly expand local investment and ownership opportunities.

You can access the excutive summary here and read the full report here.

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