Community wind energy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wikipedia reports on Wind Farm Cooperatives in Denmark and the United States.

Copied verbatim at 2:41 pm Thursday December 12th, 2013.

DanishWindTurbines.jpgDanishWindTurbines.jpg

See also: Wind power in Denmark and Middelgrunden

In Denmark, families were offered a tax exemption for generating their own electricity within their own or an adjoining commune.[4] By 2001 over 100,000 families belonged to wind turbine cooperatives, which had installed 86% of all the wind turbines in Denmark, a world leader in wind power.[5] Wind power has gained very high social acceptance in Denmark, with the development of community wind farms playing a major role.[6]

In 1997, Samsø won a government competition to become a model renewable energy community. An offshore wind farm comprising 10 turbines (making a total of 21 altogether including land-based windmills), was completed, funded by the islanders.[7] Now 100% of its electricity comes from wind power and 75% of its heat comes from solar power and biomass energy.[8] An Energy Academy has opened in Ballen, with a visitor education center.[9]

Germany

See also: Wind power in Germany and Paderborn Wind Farm

In Germany, hundreds of thousands of people have invested in citizens\’ wind farms across the country and thousands of small and medium sized enterprises are running successful businesses in a new sector that in 2008 employed 90,000 people and generated 8 percent of Germany\’s electricity.[10] Wind power has gained very high social acceptance in Germany, with the development of community wind farms playing a major role.[6]

In the German district of North Frisia there are more than 60 wind farms with a capacity of about 700 MW, and 90 percent are community-owned. North Frisia is seen to be a model location for community wind, leading the way for other regions, especially in southern Germany.[11]

United States

National Wind is a large-scale community wind project developer, with thirteen families of projects in development or operation. These projects have an aggregate capacity of over 4,000 MW. The vision of the company is to revitalize rural economies by promoting investment in domestic renewable energy resources. National Wind creates shared ownership with communities and allows them participation in decisions which are made.[24] In March 2009, National Wind formed Little Rock Wind LLC, its 7th Minnesota-based, community-owned wind energy company. The company will develop up to 150 MW of wind power within Big Stone County, Minnesota, over the next 5 to 7 years.[25]

As of 2012, OwnEnergy is currently the largest national company in community wind in the US. OwnEnergy has developed 27 community wind projects totalling more than 1,000 MW across 14 US states. The company’s strategy is to attend trade shows and “let the customers come to us” – ensuring that local support is already in place. A cornerstone of the company’s approach is that “profits will be reinvested into the community”.[26]

Goodhue Wind LLC is not a community wind development company in Goodhue County, Minnesota. The company intended to develop a 78 MW wind farm, which would have supplied electricity to Midwestern utilities and ultimately to Midwestern homes and businesses. Goodhue Wind expected the project to be operational between late 2009 and early 2010. But lack of true community support has delayed the project.[27]

Business models

Community shared ownership

In a community-based model, the developer/manager of a wind farm shares ownership of the project with area landowners and other community members. Property owners whose land was used for the wind farm are generally given a choice between a monthly cash lease and ownership units in the development. While some community wind projects, such as High Country Energy in southern Minnesota, issued public shares after the project’s formation, investment opportunities are usually offered to local citizens before the wind development is officially created.[28]

Cooperative

A wind turbine cooperative, also known as a wind energy cooperative, is a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise that follows the cooperative model, investing in wind turbines or wind farms.[29] The cooperative model was developed in Denmark. The model has also spread to Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, with isolated examples elsewhere.

Municipal

Some places have enacted policies to encourage development of municipally owned and operated wind turbines on town land. These projects are publicly owned and tax exempt. An example is the Hull Wind One project in Massachusetts’ Boston Harbor in 2001. A 660 kW wind turbine was installed, and is still a great example of small scale commercial wind.[30]

Impacts of community wind energy

Economic

Once a wind farm project is established in a community, jobs are needed for: manufacturing the materials needed to build the project, transportation of supplies to the project area, and construction of the project as well as building roads leading to the project. After the project is complete, jobs will be needed to maintain and operate the facility. According to a study by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, wind energy produces 27% more jobs per kilowatt-hour than coal plants and 66% more jobs than natural gas plants. 3.[31] Landowners will also collect revenues for hosting turbines on their property. Given a typical wind turbine spacing requirements, a 250-acre farm could increase annual farm income by $14,000 per year with little effect on their normal farming and ranching operations. 4.[31] Community wind energy projects increase local property taxes which were originally low because there was very little to be taxed due to the sparse population and vast farm land. Once the wind turbines are in service they are taxed, creating much needed revenue for the local community.

Social

The Midwest and the Great Plains regions in the United States are ideal areas for community wind energy projects; they are also often prone to drought. Fossil fuel plants use large amounts of water for cooling purposes which is detrimental to communities’ water supply if there is a drought. Wind turbines do not use any water since there is no considerable amount of heat produced during energy generation. Wind energy adds power to the electric grid which decreases the amount of oil needed to generate a community’s electricity. Local land owners, who produce the wind energy, can also control the amount of energy produced, which expands the regional energy mix. Overall community wind energy reduces the local community’s dependence on oil but, because of the subsidies involved, can greatly increase their costs for electricity.

Environmental

Livestock ignore wind turbines,[32] and continue to graze as they did before wind turbines were installed.

Compared to the environmental impact of traditional energy sources, the environmental impact of wind power is relatively minor. Wind power consumes no fuel, and emits no air pollution, unlike fossil fuel power sources. The energy consumed to manufacture and transport the materials used to build a wind power plant is equal to the new energy produced by the plant within a few months. While a wind farm may cover a large area of land, many land uses such as agriculture are compatible, with only small areas of turbine foundations and infrastructure made unavailable for use.[33]

There are reports of bird and bat mortality at wind turbines as there are around other artificial structures. The scale of the ecological impact may[34] or may not[35] be significant, depending on specific circumstances. Prevention and mitigation of wildlife fatalities, and protection of peat bogs,[36] affect the siting and operation of wind turbines.

There are anecdotal reports of negative effects from noise on people who live very close to wind turbines. Peer-reviewed research has generally not supported these statements.[37]

Policy, issues, and legislation

In 1992, the renewable energy production tax credit of 2.1 cents per kilowatt-hour was established. In February 2009, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Congress acted to provide a three-year extension of the PTC through December 31, 2012.[38] Wind projects that were up and running in 2009 and 2010 can choose to receive a 30% investment tax credit instead of the PTC. The investment tax credit is also an option for wind projects that are in service before 2013 if the final construction is complete before the end of 2010. Smaller wind farms (100 kW or less) can receive a credit for 30% towards the cost of installment of the system. The ITC, written into law through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, is available for equipment installed from October 3, 2008 through December 31, 2016. The value of the credit is now uncapped, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[39]

In order to ensure wind energy’s future in the energy market, the renewable electricity standard (RES) is a policy in which market mechanisms guarantee a growing percentage of electricity produced comes from renewable sources, like wind energy. The RES exists in 28 states (not at a national level). An example is the Obama-Biden New Energy for America plan, which sets future goals of rapid renewable energy production at 10% by 2012.[39]

A pressing issue of concern is the lack of a modern interstate transmission grid which delivers carbon free electricity to customers. Currently the US Senate and the Natural Resources Committee have reported the bill out of committee on June 17, 2009. A combined energy and climate bill is expected to be considered by the full Senate this fall. In the US House of Representatives the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a comprehensive energy and climate bill on May 21, 2010.

The clean air and climate change policy is goal to switch from fossil fuel energy sources to renewable carbon-free energy sources for electricity production. Generating 20% of U.S. electricity from wind would be the climate equivalent of removing 140 million vehicles from the roadways. Currently the US Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works has control over the legislation and will begin to complete a markup by September 25, 2009. The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act on June 26, 2009, comprising a provision to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83% below 2005 levels by 2050. It also allocates a portion of the allowances given away for free to energy efficiency and renewable energy. However, the allowances flow through state governments rather than directly to renewable generators.

Overall federal funding for community wind research and development is insufficient and even more so when compared to other fuels and energy sources. In 2009 the US Department of Energy (DOE) received $118 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for wind energy research and development. In 2010 the Senate passed a bill granting the DOE $85 million for the DOE wind program. For the same purpose, the House of Representatives allowed the DOE $70 million.

See also

via Community wind energy – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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