The DOE Requests a 53% Increase in Wind Energy Funding for FY 2014

The DOE funding request for wind energy in FY 2014 is $144 million. This request amounts to a whopping 53% increase over the FY 2013 funding for wind energy. U.S. taxpayers have supported wind energy development since 1970. After 44 years of government spending, of taxpayers dollars, the DOE reports that unsubsidized wind energy is not currently (2014) “market competitive” with natural gas fired electric power plants.

Now the DOE reports that wind turbine farms are experiencing a 20% to 30% reduction in energy producing efficiency. For example, on a wind farm each turbine should theoretically produce an equal amount of electricity. The fact is that some turbines in the farm are not producing as much electricity as others. The cost of wind turbine electricity is inversely proportional to the amount of energy produced. When a turbine produces less than its rated amount of electricity the cost of electricity increases. The DOE reports that the, up to 30%, reduction in wind farm electricity production is attributed to air turbulence. The most upwind turbines produce air turbulence that flows down stream. This turbulent flow enters all of the wind turbines, in the down wind locations, causing a reduction in the electricity they produced. This “surprise” finding has resulted in the DOE request for $23.5 million (of the $144 million) for “wind plant optimization.”

Author’s comment: Maybe the DOE Wind Energy Office should read, if their budget allows, some of the history reported by NASA on the DOE MOD-2 Project. I suggest reading the report: Gordon, L. H. “MOd-2 Wind Turbine System Cluster Research Test Program, Vol. 1 – Initial Plan. NASA TM-82906, 1982.