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Extreme Wind Farming Gets $102 Million Blast

wind farm

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Wind farms suffer from a problem: They’re built to harness wind, but are still vulnerable to wear-and-tear caused by severely windy conditions. Enter the Record Hill Wind project, a Yale University Endowment-funded 50.6 megawatt wind power plant set to start construction this year in rural Maine. The project, which just scored a $102 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, will tackle the wind wear-and-tear conundrum, and produce enough energy to power over 50,000 homes, to boot.

The key to keeping Record Hill’s wind farm in pristine condition is Turbine Load Control technology, a system of software and sensors that allows the turbines to generate electricity during rough weather instead of being shut down. In addition to cutting down on turbine wear-and-tear, the technology is also expected to cut down on management and operation costs and extend the lifetime of turbine components.

“Today’s
announcement is good for this country’s clean energy future, and it’s
good for the people of Maine who will benefit from the jobs generated by
this project,”said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement. “Record Hill introduces an
innovative technology to the U.S. that will boost domestic wind
generation and help us reach President Obama’s goal of doubling clean
energy produced in America by 2035.”

When Record Hill breaks ground this Spring, it will create 200 construction jobs. Once it’s completed at the end of 2011, it will prevent 70,000 tons of CO2 pollution each year. And if the Turbine Load Control technology works as expected, it will be a long time until we hear about Record Hill needing more funds for repairs.

[Image: Flickr user twistyfoldy.net]

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Ariel Schwartz can be reached by email.


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