November 7, 2007 Known for oil and gas production, Texas seems an unlikely leader in the field of wind power. Construction has begun on the new Stanton Wind farm in Texas, USA that will employ 80 1.5-megawatt wind turbines and commence operation by April 2008.
Stanton will produce power sufficient for 37,000 homes and avoid 285,000 tons a year in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to equivalent fossil fuel generation. The project is the result of a partnership between aglobal wind power developer Invenergy Wind LLC and traditional energy provider, General Electric Company. The move indicates the energy sector’s belief in renewable energies as a way forward that is both environmentally and financially viable. With this investment, GE Energy Financial Services holds equity in 51 wind farms worldwide, with a capacity to produce more than 2,550 megawatts of electricity. It plans to double its more than $2 billion of renewable energy investments by 2010.
Texas leads US states in installed wind power, and this investment will help the state meet its requirement to produce 5,880 megawatts of its power from renewable sources by 2015. With large tracts of flat open land and the second highest wind energy potential in the United States, Texas is an attractive region for wind power investment.
Critics of wind power claim that large scale stations require too much land in order to generate the megawatts needed power homes and businesses. Proponents argue that the reality is very different when comparing wind power with fossil fuel - an open cut coal mine and coal-fired power station needs to occupy 10,000 hectares to produce an average power output of 850 MW, while the equivalent wind station output (it would need a potential output of 2600 MW to produce an average output of 850 MW) would require a 65,000 hectares. But despite the larger overall land size, the wind station would only physically occupy 650-1950 of the 65,000 hectares, with the surrounding area available for pastoral land for crops and grazing, meaning a more effective use of land space can co-exist with clean, renewable energy.