Abstract

The Pacific Northwest is endowed with substantial resources of both hydro energy and wind energy for electrical power generation. The combination of these energy sources into an integrated and optimized system has the potential for supplying a major portion of the future energy requirements of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, western Montana and northeastern Nevada.

The objective of the Pacific Northwest Wind Regional Energy Assessment Program (PNW WIND-REAP) is to identify areas of high wind-power density and develop an order-of-magnitude estimate of the maximum installed capacity, seasonal and annual energy and possible firm capacity available to the region from wind power when integrated with the Columbia River hydroelectric system. This paper presents an assessment of the potential resource and is not a recommended plan of implementation since obvious nontechnical considerations, i.e., institutional, environmental, aesthetics, etc., must be included in the final decision-making process before sites could be selected and technical specifications for wind energy conversion systems be prepared, ordered and installed.

This resource assessment is being accomplished by installing wind data recording stations in those areas which, because of topography, signs of flagging or carpeted vegetation, and/or soil erosion provide evidence of strong or persistent winds. In. addition to national weather service stations, 33 active data stations, ranging from strip chart recorders to simple wind run recorders, are currently functional.

The proven wind energy resources are concentrated in several regions in the Pacific Northwest, namely, the coastal zone of Oregon and Washington and the adjoining offshore waters, the Columbia River Gorge and adjacent ridge tops running from central Washington to just east of Portland, and portions of northeastern Nevada. Also, most of the higher elevations in the five-state area are believed to have significant wind energy potential, especially during the winter when the storm track moves over the Pacific Northwest. However, wind measurement programs are required in these mountains areas before reliable estimates of wind power potential can be made.

Wind energy potential is examined in terms of the amount of time that power producing winds in the range 4.5–27.0 m s−1 occur. The resulting “effective wind power density” is examined on a seasonal basis at the various sites throughout the five-state area. The analysis indicates that there are large wind power resources not only during storms but also with the clear skies associated with high pressure to the northeast. In summer the dominant high pressure system over the Pacific results in substantial wind power along the coast and through the Columbia Gorge and to the cast.

A preliminary indication of the energy production which could have been produced by a 1175 unit, 2140 MW rated, seven-site network in the Pacific Northwest during the period July 1976-February 1977 is 3.8 × 109 KWh. To obtain the lowest cost per unit energy output the wind turbine generator (WTG) unit should he sized according to the strength of the wind regime. However, a comparison of the cost per kilowatt-hour production for various size WTG ratings reveals that for a minor change in price, a sizable increase (or decrease) in energy output can be experienced.

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