Largest U.S. Wind Farm Secures 1.2 Billion
Terra-Gen Power LLC last week broke ground on what will be the largest Wind Energy Center in the US. The company has 4 wind power projects planned for Kern County, California, and recently secured $1.2 billion for the projects.
Kern has been California’s top oil producing county for years. A vast, desert landscape scattered with the Tehachapi mountain range, rivers and canyons, there are several existing wind projects in the area. Terra-Gen plans to expand these areas, adding an additional 570 megawatts to the Alta Wind Energy Center in Kern County, eventually bringing its total capacity to 3,000 MW.
As a comparison, the current largest wind farm in the US, is Horses Hollow in Texas, using 421 turbines to generate 735 megawatts. In Europe, the Whitelee Wind Farm in Scotland generates 322MW. An expansion of Whitlee is planned, by Spanish energy company Iberdrola. Even larger wind farms in Spain and Germany are expected to go online this year.
Its a sub-culture almost akin to an arms race, with counties and countries racing to go bigger and better with their alternative energy production.
Billy Gamboa, a renewable energy analyst with the California Center for Sustainable Energy, says of the Kern County initiative “It’s a super-mega-project — it’ll definitely set a precedent for the rest of the state and have a pretty large impact on the wind industry in general,” he said.
The Kern project utilizes new turbines, that generate 120 times as much electricity as the 1980’s models, at one-fifth the production cost. The Kern projects will create more than 1,500 manufacturing, construction and operation jobs. The plant secured access to a new transmission line last year.
When it’s complete, the wind farm will replace 5.8 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 28 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 13.2 million pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions.
Says Schwarzenegger, California’s Governator, “Having the world’s largest wind project break ground in our state is tangible evidence that our pioneering policies are drawing investment, improving the economy and creating jobs now when we need them most.”