We also reported on a Stanford University study that calculated that there's enough wind near shore and over land combined to produce at least half the world's power demand by 2030, using what the researchers say is the most sophisticated climate model ever created.
As the installed base of turbines has grown, manufacturers view operation and maintenance services as an increasingly important revenue stream. That's been especially true during the industry’s current slowdown. One reason for the contract price drops has been better service performance of the turbines themselves. Another is more competitive bidding among turbine manufacturers for service contracts. It's interesting to note that the period covered by the analysis coincides approximately with the worldwide financial downturn, which put the brakes on growth in many industries and heated up competition.
One reflection of turbines' improved performance and improvements in wind farm management is the fact that the contracts' average availability guarantees reached 96.9 percent. The report noted that such guarantees for actual energy production are becoming more common.
The participants in this first Operations and Maintenance Price Index expect contract pricing to remain relatively stable until at least 2015, according to the report. The most competitive pricing of all markets occurred in the US.
In the future, the Index will be updated twice a year.
Ann, that is an interesting point you raise. As costs come down, the payback period will shorten.
Actually, I was visiting a cousin who has a farm in central Illinois. As we were driving to lunch one day I noticed the one wind turbine in the area. On asking him about it, he said the problem was the payback period on them. I guess some people get paid rent to allow tuebines to be sited on their land (like farming rents) while others get involved in the financing of the turbines. Even for turnines to power the farm itself, he said that these are way too expensive to be worth it. These guys are very practical and hard headed. If it does not make sense they don't do it. They are also generally well educated, informed and tech savvy these days. They have to be.
On a related issue, I asked him about corn stalks for ethanol production. They were all still laying around his farm and all the others in the area. I guess the problem is that they have to bundled to be sold to the processors. As long as crop prices are so high because of international demand it will not be worth the extra time and effort for the farmer to do this.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.