Wind power generally refers to the use of the wind to generate either mechanical power or electricity. In the case of the latter, kinetic energy is converted into electricity using a generator.
Because wind is a variable resource and is often located far from load centers (large pockets of 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.
39 U.S. states and Puerto Rico
have operating utility-scale wind projects
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.
|States with the most wind power capacity installed, through Q4 2012
||12, 214 MW
Source: American Wind Energy Association
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 in 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 in wind projects. Additionally, AEP’s operating companies have entered into various long-term power purchase contracts. For more information on AEP’s experience with wind energy, please visit the following page: