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Northwest Land Rush to Build Wind Farms

Carol Cizauskas, Oregon Public Broadcasting
ELLENSBURG, WA — There’s a new crop growing in the fields of eastern Washington and Oregon. It’s wind turbines.

Eight years ago, there wasn’t a single wind farm in the Northwest. Today, enough turbines are operating and under construction to power about 350,000 homes.

Correspondent Carol Cizauskas visited a new wind farm in central Washington, and reports on the state of wind energy in the Northwest.
(24 July 2006)

Texas tops in wind energy production

Steve Quinn, Associated Press via Contra Costa Times
DALLAS – Long known as a top oil- and natural gas-producing state, Texas has gained new energy acclaim by becoming the nation’s top producer of wind energy.

Texas capacity stands at 2,370 megawatts, enough to power 600,000 average-sized homes a year, according to a midyear report released Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association.

That puts Texas slightly ahead of California, the nation’s leader since 1981. California has 2,323 megawatts of capacity. The total U.S. capacity is 9,971 megawatts.

So far this year, Texas has added 375 megawatts, or 46 percent of the total 822 megawatts brought online nationwide.

Last year, wind energy generation grew 35 percent nationwide, adding 2,431 megawatts, but that fell short of the projected 2,500. The wind association believes it can add 3,000 megawatts nationwide this year, even if that means another 2,178 megawatts by year’s end.
(25 July 2006)

Hot German July Doesn’t Faze Farmer Who Reaps the Sun

Mark Landler, NY Times
Surely Heiner Gärtner is one of the only farmers in Germany, if not most of Europe, who greets the dawn of yet another cloudless day with anticipation rather than angst.

Mr. Gärtner’s 69-year-old father, Heinrich, feeding the pigs on the farm, whose waste is used to fuel a biogas plant to generate electricity.

As Germany sizzles through what is expected to be its hottest July on record, crops are shriveling and farmers are growing desperate. Some have petitioned the European Union to allow sheep and cattle to graze on land normally off limits, because their own fields are scorched.

Here on Mr. Gärtner’s 200-acre farm, however, the fields are covered with 10,050 solar panels, which soak up the sunshine and convert it into electricity. The ambient hum in the air is not the sound of insects but of transformers carrying a high-voltage current to the villages nearby.

“We’ve had so much sun,” said Mr. Gärtner, 34, a wide-brimmed hat shielding his face from the rays. “It would be better if we could have this much sun with less heat. But you can’t have everything.”

Extreme heat actually reduces the efficiency of the solar panels, he said, pointing to a dial that showed the plant was running at 83 percent of its capacity. On cooler days, the panels operate at full capacity.
(28 July 2006)