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. Illinois rest areas not good for wind power

None of the rest area or weigh station sites could achieve grid parity. Part of the difficulty, the researchers said, is that Illinois's electricity is very inexpensive. Another difficulty was that the rest areas require an unusually large amount of power to operate vending machines and lights 24 hours a day.
by Staff Writers
Champaign, Ill. (UPI) Mar 25, 2009
Scientists say they assessed more than 50 Illinois highway rest areas and weigh stations as possible sites for wind turbines and found none acceptable.

University of Illinois Professor Patrick Chapman and graduate student Piotr Wiczkowski performed the study for state officials who wanted to determine the feasibility of using wind to provide electricity at the sites.

Wiczkowski and Chapman said what they were looking for was "grid parity." They determined what the cost would be to install and maintain wind turbines at each site for 20 years versus the cost of the energy generated during that time. If they found the cost would match the cost of obtaining electricity from the grid, then grid parity would be achieved.

"If you have grid parity," said Chapman, "it's an economically wise decision to put the wind turbine in. The numbers add up, in other words."

But they found none of the rest area or weigh station sites could achieve grid parity. Part of the difficulty, the researchers said, is that Illinois's electricity is very inexpensive. Another difficulty was that the rest areas require an unusually large amount of power to operate vending machines and lights 24 hours a day.

The study is available in PDF format at http://www.ict.uiuc.edu/Publications/report%20files/FHWA-ICT-09-034.pdf.

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