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Midwest output projections analysed

Aggressive projections are being made for the expected output of new wind power plants in the American Midwest. Meteorologists are quoting annual yields of up to a high of 1280 kWh per square metre of rotor swept area (kWh/m2). This is typically 50% greater than the performance logged today by California's post 1985 turbines in higher winds, reports the latest issue of WindStats Newsletter, a Windpower Monthly supplement. In an in-depth analysis of projections for a wide range of Midwest projects using a variety of turbine makes, WindStats questions whether such projections are not, in fact, too aggressive. "Only time will tell, and only then if production figures from the new arrays become publicly available," writes article author Paul Gipe. The optimistic output projections are based on the taller towers now being used and on the thoroughness of the Midwest wind mapping program, which has made successful siting far more likely. The lowest projection of specific yield is for Madison Gas & Electric's joint project with Wisconsin Electric using Vestas V47 units: 800 kWh/m2. Enron publicity indicates that its 193 MW Iowa development will produce 1190 kWh/m2 using the Zond Z-750; and the highest prediction is for Dan Juhl's DanMar project near Woodstock, Minnesota, where the 17 Vestas V44 turbines are projected to produce 1280 kWh/m2. WindStats compares these predictions with the real life performance of California's best wind farms.

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