Gas Business Briefing
Wind Power Not the Big Emissions Killer, Study Finds

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Using combined-cycle, gas-fired power as a coal substitute lowered the amount of carbon dioxide produced as a comparable amount of wind power, a new study found.

The two-year study, highlights of which were released Tuesday during Bentek Energy LLC's annual Benposium symposium, found wind power isn't cost-effective in lowering carbon dioxide emissions nationwide, but makes some economic sense in areas where coal generation dominates.

"The emissions savings were far less than expected using wind power," says Bentek energy analyst Brannin McBee, addressing an audience of roughly 400 in Houston, including Gas Business Briefing.

McBee's research looked at power generation and emissions in four regions of the country, including territory within the Midwest Independent System Operator, ERCOT, which covers most of Texas, the California ISO, and the Bonneville Power Authority in the Pacific Northwest.

Using actual data, not computer-generated models, McBee found that if coal-fired plants are forced to cycle, i.e., produce, then not produce power, as the ISO accepts wind power, the coal plant's emissions increase.

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