This piece was originally published in the November 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Industry Director, Utility Products and Systems Division, NEMA
Southern California’s Coachella Valley and its San Gorgonio Pass is one of the windiest places in the United States, making it a hotbed for renewable generation since the 1970s. It promises to remain so for many years to come. Although Danish manufacturer Vestas has the largest footprint in this desert valley, its wind farms also employ products from NEMA Members GE Power, Mitsubishi, and Siemens.
The smallest turbines, some of which were installed in the 1980s, are rated to only 500 kW of electricity while newer and larger models rate up to 3 MW. Project developers such as AVANGRID, AES, and NextEra operate many of the newer units.
While there is room for growth, development has slowed because of wind patterns in the valley, the fact that the best spots are already taken, and hefty spacing requirements for optimal performance. New technologies that allow propellers to “follow” the wind will allow for some further development, but photovoltaic panels, which do not face the same challenges, may present the best option.