Smart grid funding ramps up
The Dept. of Energy has begun doling out $3.9 billion earmarked for smart grids from stimulus legislation. And the investment bank Morgan Stanley predicts the smart-grid market will grow from $20 billion to $100 billion in 2030. Small wonder, then, that venture capital investment in smart grid firms is growing smartly, one might say. The technology advisory firm Cleantech Group. After a slow down last year, expectations are for VC funding to accelerate in 2010.
Forecast: Variable winds
Large-scale energy storage has been in the news lately. Figures collected by GE's wind energy operation and the N.Y. Independent System Operator (NYISO), which manages New York's 10,775-mile electricity transmission grid, show why. New York tends to experience the heaviest electrical loads when wind power output is ebbing. That's not an issue when wind is a small percentage of the generation capacity, but it becomes more problematic if renewables account for a bigger chunk of power resources. The fix: Build utility scale energy storage facilities — basically building-sized storage batteries — able to store energy that renewables generate for later use to better handle peak loads. (Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
Manufacturing operations use a lot of energy
The industrial sector accounts for 31% of total U.S. energy consumption, more than any other part of the economy. And 65% of industrial energy consumption goes into manufacturing alone, points out the National Association of Manufacturers. Most of the manufacturing sector's energy comes from fossil fuels. A significant portion of the manufacturing sector's energy use goes into heating or two produce feedstock and raw materials.
How much land
How much land would it take to field wind farms able to supply between 20 and 40% of U.S. electricity demand in the year 2040? The DoE's National Renewable Energy Lab says the necessary acreage corresponds to the two green areas on this map. The small red area is the amount of land needed for wind turbines themselves, access roads, and other equipment. The DoE says the rest of the space would still be available for farming, ranching, or other uses.