Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Baker Institute studies wind, fossil fuel power generation

US wind power generating capacity primarily has displaced natural gas-fired generation so far, yet a recent study by the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University concludes that increased wind-generation capacity is likely to result in more investment in gas-fired generation capacity.

“A number of studies have shown that the expansion of wind has thus far displaced natural gas more than coal,” said a study entitled “Wind Power in the United States: Prospects and Consequences” by Peter R. Hartley, a Rice economics professor and scholar of energy economics for the Baker Institute.

But he sees this as being a short-term situation because gas is a good complement to renewable sources that are highly variable.

“In the longer run, the intermittency of wind and the fact that wind generation satisfies base-load demand more than intermediate or peaking loads should discourage investment in base-load coal and nuclear capacity,” he said.

Wind power generating capacity installed in the US has grown at about 30%/year since 2000, he said. US wind generation currently is concentrated in Texas and the Midwest.

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