Aruba's New Windfarm  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

Jerome a Paris has a post at TOD on a wind farm in the Caribbean that he helped finance - Aruba's New Windfarm.

As Copenhagen ended, unsurprisingly, in confusion, I have the opportunity to give you a more positive tale, and show you it is possible for people - including even bankers amongst them - to work towards a more sustainable future without necessarily endangering our way of life.

In this case, it involves the construction of a windfarm in a place where it will directly replace fuel-oil-burning power plants. As you'll be able to see below, this wind farm is quite remarkable in a number of ways which means that this experience will not be replicable as easily everywhere, but it shows that there are many places and energy systems which it is possible to materially improve under almost all criterai using renewable energy.

Amongst notable features, one can find:

* at around 60%, it has one of the highest capacity factors in the world, with 50% more power output per turbine than European offshore windfarms...; located on the Eastern coast of the island, it is exposed directly to the trade winds, which are highly regular and almost always in the same direction (allowing to put the turbines very close to one another); their almost constant strength also mean that tear and wear is actually likely to be less than usual, as there are very few brutal changes in regime and torque;

* it is now providing 20% of the island's overall electricity needs, replacing dirty and expensive fuel-oil in the process. At night, it will produce up to 60% of the demand. And thanks to the highly regular wind regime, this is very stable and predictable production; (even though they pushed for this project to happen, the local power company had quite a shock to see 'for real' how big a portion of their system the windfarm has suddenly become - as is still frequent, utilities have trouble taking wind seriously, but it this case the reality was quite compelling);

* the utility will save money on fuel imports and, more importantly, will actually end up with cheaper power: it buys the electricity from the wind farm at a fixed price over 15 years which is roughly equivalent to what it costs to produce electricity from their traditional oil-fired generators with oil prices at $45/bbl. Who wants to bet on oil being consistently under $45 for the next 15 years? In fact, the prime minister of the island, who was present at the inauguration, used the opportunity of that ceremony to announce lower power prices for the poorest households on the island...

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