Apple’s Oregon wind farm eyes bigger, and fewer, turbines

“Fewer but bigger turbines — the most powerful ever deployed in the Northwest — could reduce the footprint and improve the economics of an Oregon wind farm that Apple is counting on for vast amounts of clean energy,” Pete Danko reports for The Portland Business Journal.

“Project developer Avangrid Renewables is seeking a permit amendment for the Montague Wind Power Facility that would allow it to use a turbine model with a rotor diameter of 136 meters and generating capacity of 3.6 megawatts,” Danko reports. “That’s a big step up from the most powerful turbines spinning in the Northwest today, which can crank out 2.5 megawatts.”

“Avangrid has been tight-lipped about the power buyer for the 202-megawatt first phase of the project,” Danko reports. “However, in its annual sustainability report last month, Apple outed itself, calling Montague its ‘largest (renewable energy) project to date’ …If it does use the longer-blade turbines, Avangrid will stick with towers that have a hub height of 82 meters. At that height, the turbine blades will reach about 498 feet into the air at their highest point, just below a 500-foot level that would bring additional scrutiny from the Federal Aviation Administration.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: That’s a big boy!

30 Comments

    1. I think it is safe to say that the clean energy is left’s wet dream.

      I can see the same scenario but with a bald eagle, with the right getting unhinged over the American symbol getting slaughtered by ugly, unnecessary, inefficient windmills…

      1. I dream of clean energy also. Clean and cheap and abundant. Maybe energy is one of those “pick any two” things.

        You can have it clean and cheap, but not abundant. Or cheap and abundant but not clean. Clean and abundant and too expensive for most people.

        Still, I can dream. Right?

        Eagles are beautiful birds.

        1. I don’t quite know what is it that prevents USA from building hydro powerplants. There are plenty of great rivers throughout the country, and this is probably the most efficient clean power source there is. There are many countries whose entire power grid is powered by hydroelectric plants — they are 100% clean.

          As for cheap, I’m not sure what is the reference point here. Build a cheap coal powerplant for much less money than it takes to build a renewable (solar, wind, hydro) with similar production capacity? That is certain, for sure, but there is a point in time where this investment pays off, and after that, it generates a lot more net cash flow than a traditional, fossil-fuel powered plant.

          1. Renewable energy production already employees a large number of people in the US – way more than coal.

            And a major coal exec recently said that it doesn’t matter what Trump does, that those jobs are just not coming back because coal is now too expensive compared to other sources of power.

    2. You would think that would be the case but it is not.

      Two, three years ago there were several articles hidden on a few news networks about the number of birds, including eagles killed by turbines but the O administration did not go after them. However, they did charge one oil drilling company in the upper midwest for a dead duck being found on their property, and gave them hell. The charges were dropped.

    3. Cleaner energy production is not only possible, it is happening right now and has been progressing for years. You guys are so full of yourselves that you cannot recognize reality.

      News flash – the growth of wind power in Texas (a really red state) has been massive over the past five years. And this is a state that bleeds oil. Reputable studies have shown that a U.S. power grid can be anchored with a large mix of renewable sources and be *more* reliable than it is currently. In addition, the cost of renewable sources of energy continue to decline. Even if you discount the long history of fossil fuel subsidies and pollution issues and political advantages, renewable energy is highly competitive and will soon become the obvious choice for many industrial scale applications. Granted, until storage technology improves, liquid fuels will tend to dominate mobile applications, such as transportation.

      You can huff and puff all you want, but you will just be creating more power from the wind turbines.

  1. Ah, yes, but the bigger the blade, the slower the rotation. So hopefully the big blades will be better for birds. Small blades turn like boat propellers and are hard to see. Yet somehow not many people complain about all the boats out there that kill marine animals (and sometimes even humans) willy-nilly with their propellers. Go figure. Anyway, wind turbines likely cause much less damage than now caused by fossil fuel research, exploration, extraction, storage, refining, distribution, and combustion.

  2. As much as we rag on Apple about neglecting the Mac, one thing that can be said for their “adventures” is that from the spaceship campus to the Apple Watch, to all of their renewable energy projects, to their research into self-driving automobiles and other AI, intelligent home devices, and on and on, no one can possibly be generating more useful data for the future.

    For this we thank you.

    I’d also like to mention, as long as I’m taking a moment to be nice to Apple, I now have a laptop with everything everyone ever said they wanted in a PRO creative’s laptop, It is a powerful beast in many ways.

    I just can’t lift it.

    I mean, yeah, I can lift it, but wow is it heavy. It’s thin, a fraction of an inch thick. It’s all black, totally badass looking. 17.3″ gorgeous screen. It just feels like you’re trying to lift a small refrigerator every time you pick it up. Then, when you go back to the MacBook Pro, which costs slightly less mind you, the big difference is the lack of a popular gaming GPU, kabby lake, and 16GB of memory, you have to wonder, how in the world Apple crammed so much into such a small package.

    Perspective is everything.

    1. I have seen some of those “desktop-replacement” laptops. In addition to being thicker and heavier and noisier, they tend to last perhaps 45 minutes on batteries (a massive battery pack, at that).

      Sure, that is a laptop…if you live in the early 1990s. For those that need workstation performance in a somewhat portable package, more power to you. Buy the beast. The rest of us are fine with a *real* desktop workstation and an MBP or MB.

  3. It is refreshing that some in the global warming community are giving serious consideration for nuclear power. Unlike Chernobyl and Fukushima newer fourth generation nuclear reactors have signicant promise of providing consistant and constant electrical energy with no chance of meltdown, minimal waste, and without eyesores.

    1. Sounds like Windows — THIS generation is really good… honest. And the insanely toxic and long-lasting nuclear waste is “minimal”. That’s reassuring.

  4. I suppose politics IS relative. But there is no more extreme caricature of politics than that of the good ol’ US of A. The link made there between environmentalism and left-wing politics is quite amusing to me as I remember how the environmental movement was most vehemently resisted by the left, e.g. the UK where I lived. Marxists resented this new issue that wasn’t part of their old calculus. Or, how the Greens were established in many countries because their concerns were being ignored by the mainstream political movements. Consider also how former communist countries and their citizens suffered the most extreme environmental damage. It’s also hysterically funny, and maybe Americans won’t get this—that you call people such as Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and Barrack Obama, “the Left”. 😀 It makes me suspect a grand strategy to make people forget what the left is truly about.

  5. Considering that despite the massive costs and subsidies to keep renewables alive, the total amount of energy created by renewables is around 2%. There is no way in any foreseeable future that renewables (solar and wind) are going to replace any other source of energy anytime soon. T

    The other unanswered question is, despite Apple’s wide spread deployment of solar and Wind, how effective has it really been for the company and how much is ongoing maintenance of this infrastructure going to cost Apple as it ages… Sure they got lots of money, but I suspect at some point, its going to cost them more than it really saves them..

    1. I don’t know where you live, but here in Texas renewables are a lot more than 2% of the mix. This is oil and gas country, so those fuels are cheap and there are no subsidies for competing energy sources. Even so, there have been a few unusually sunny windy days when renewable generation has exceeded 50% of the state total. There is at least one Texas city of over 50,000 people that gets ALL its electricity from renewable sources.

      Obviously, there are windless cloudy days that require other means of generation for backup and the need to develop scalable means of storing power for use in peak periods, but those problems are less than the long-term problems associated with excessive reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal.

      1. Perhaps I should have been more detailed, that 2% worldwide..

        Plus, color me highly skeptical when its “reported” that some city is using 100% renewable, because wind does not blow all the time and the sun is not out at night, so unless they have significant storage capabilities that will fill in the gap for those times, they are not 100% renewable.

        1. There is also hydro. And methane produced from bio-mass. Plus, there is something to be said for old-fashioned conservation, as well as passive-solar building design. And utilities charging higher/lower prices for peak/off-peak electric demand. This is how Burlington, VT is doing it.

          1. Methane and hydro are also inadequate for the worlds energy needs.. Now I am not saying to try and find ways of being more energy efficient, nor am I saying not to try and use renewables.

            However they will never ever fill the gap. The big problem with renewables is that they are often heavily subsidized at YOUR expense. Not to mention where used, they do NOT pay for themselves, they always cost more to deploy and maintain than they produce.

            Unless you willing to live in the dark. or pay excessively for your power, then by all means push renewables to the exclusion of better options.. There are of course other issues. Like the poor that cannot afford the excessive costs of renewables.

            1. Here is how a school bus driver and special-ed teacher in Burlington VT reduced their electric consumption AND largely eliminated their fossil fuel consumption …all financed by the local electric utility. The utility funded their home energy “makeover”, which is paid for using savings on their energy consumption costs.

              http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/29/power-to-the-people

              It is not magical thinking. People are doing this, now.

        2. http://www.npr.org/2017/03/07/519064002/texas-city-leads-the-way-on-renewable-energy

          http://www.statesman.com/news/local/georgetown-now-100-percent-powered-renewable-energy/Mjd2fjonnWU1PlnZjVKEcO/

          Obviously, there is some bookkeeping involved. When the renewable sources are producing excess power, it is sold on the market and then “bought back” when there is a shortfall. There are also some large battery storage units that even out the load to some extent.

          On balance, though, there is certainly a renewable kilowatt generated for every kilowatt consumed in the city.

          1. A media headline does NOT make it so.. The media is one of the biggest pushers of the renewable agenda, and you expect them to give you accurate information…? Not a chance in my mind..

            1. One of the things that happens for most human beings as they mature is object persistence—they believe that things exist even when they are not in direct view.

              Consequently, when the mayor of a Texas city goes on a national radio program to claim that something is so, during the same time that he is running for mayor, most people would believe that it is so. If it were not, his opponent (substantially more liberal than himself) would bring the lie to light, as would any or all of the regional media, at least some of the 60,000 utility customers, and all of the state agencies with which the city is required to file documentation as to where it gets its electricity. In fact, nobody has contradicted the city authorities and the mayor was reelected in a landslide.

              If you choose not to believe documented facts, I hope that your lack of object persistence does not affect other areas of your life.

            2. Wow, a politician going on a radio show somehow adds credibility to the story… thats on par with trusting the media to tell you the whole story…. If there was ever a somewhat objective report detailing how they keep the lights on when the wind stops and the sun’s not shining. And at the same time its cheaper than some other source of power, let me know..

            3. Macinfo,

              Either you are just joking or you didn’t bother to read what I said above. The way that the City of Georgetown “keeps the lights on when the sun isn’t shining” is by (1) drawing energy from their battery storage units, and (2) using the credits that they have earned with the state interconnect grid by producing extra power on sunny (and windy) days. Georgetown does not generate power locally; it purchases electricity from wind and solar facilities in West Texas that put their output into the grid so that Georgetown can draw it out.

              Are you under the impression that your local power company generates every individual watt its customers use? No, it sometimes generates a surplus it sells to the grid and sometimes has a deficit that it makes up with outside power from the grid.

              Same notion for homes with their own solar cells. When it is sunny, they generate excess that is sold to the local utility and when it is cloudy, they buy those watts back. If the house generates more power than it consumes, its energy use can reasonably be called 100% renewable, even if not every watt consumed onsite can be traced back directly to a solar cell.

              Obviously, the whole interconnected grid cannot not rely today exclusively on renewables. There isn’t enough power storage capacity to do without a backup for statewide windless or cloudy days. In Texas, our state grid relies largely on gas, but there are several large coal or lignite powerplants and two nuclear facilities. Nevertheless, renewables are an increasing proportion of the mix and there will be an increasing number of days when wind or solar is generating most of the power.

              According to the articles I cited that you refused to believe, the Georgetown approach is not only “green” in the environmental sense but also in the folding money sense. City staff can cite numbers to show that renewable energy is cheaper in the long run than buying electricity from coal or gas. If they were lying, the state regulators (who are heavily biased towards oil and gas) would have called them on it.

              Georgetown is an extremely conservative and overwhelmingly Republican community populated in large part by wealthy retirees. If this program was not holding down electricity prices, there would be torchlight parades in the street. The challengers (all of them businessmen) in the mayor and council elections would have pointed out any waste of money by their incumbent opponents. They did not do so because they are reasonable individuals and not conspiracy theorists.

              There, I have let you know.

  6. Apple in the energy business is a very, very good thing.

    Apple should be supplying wind and solar energy around the world. Sea or ocean wind farms for Europe and Japan, Australia, excellent. We know no one wants a nuclear power plant in their backyard, so forget them.Though powerful, producing CO2 free energy, we can’t handle the by-products of that production safely yet. So, wind, solar, natural gas in fuel cells, and planting a hell of a lot of trees seems to be a reasonable way to go. It would be nice that in large cities, where an old factory once existed the site is cleaned up, lots of jobs there, and trees and grass and flower are planted until a new business or businesses are ready to make use of the land.

    Now, if somebody could just create a car, family sized, or bigger, have you seen what passes for family sized lately, that could travel 600 miles on a charge and allow it to fully charge in 8 minutes or less, we could almost say good-bye to waring in the middle east. Well, to maintain as some presidents have said in the past, our way of life.

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