Wind power generally refers to the use of the wind to generate either mechanical power or electricity. In the case of the latter, the kinetic energy is converted into electricity using a generator.
Because wind is a variable resource and is often located far from load centers (customers), integrating wind energy into the nation’s electric grid poses some challenges. However, many of these challenges can be addressed and / or mitigated if the country adopts a comprehensive transmission strategy similar to that which AEP has been advocating for a number of years.
The Top Twenty States for Wind Energy Potential
As measured by annual energy potential in the billions of kWh, factoring in environmental and land use exclusions for wind class of 3 or higher.
States with the Most Wind Energy Potential
Source: American Wind Energy Association
How wind turbines work
The capacity of utility grade wind turbines ranges from about 100 kilowatts to several megawatts. Each turbine is mounted on a tower which raises the fan blades and the generator to an elevation that enables access to faster, less turbulent wind. The spinning of a rotor drives the shaft of a generator to produce electricity.
Most wind turbines do not operate at wind speeds greater than 55 mph. They have the technical capability to change the pitch of the blades so that they are not moved by the wind in order to avoid the damage that would result.
Transmission Enabling Wind
Source: AEP Transmission White Paper
The economics of wind power
The following factors determine the economic viability of wind power projects:
- Wind speed – the energy generated is a function of the wind speed: a 10% increase in wind speed results in a 33% increase in energy production
- The height of the tower and length of the blades
- The size of the wind farm – fixed costs measured in $/kWh generally decrease as projects grow is size i.e. over 50 MW.
- The cost of financing long-term assets
- Transmission market constraints
- Federal, State and local tax incentives
Wind power at AEP
AEP has over a decade of experience developing owning, operating wind projects as well as purchasing the output from projects developed by others.
AEP’s non-regulated affiliate (AEP Energy Partners) owns two wind power projects totaling 310 MW and also purchases the output under long-term contracts from two additional projects totaling 176 MW.
AEP’s various operating companies have entered into various long-term power purchase agreements with wind projects totaling 1406 MW located within Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and PJM grids. These projects are located in TX, OK, IL, IN and WV. See box at left for more information about wind in each of AEP’s operating companies.