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The world’s largest wind farm officially got up and running in October 2009, with all 627 towering wind turbines churning out electricity across 100,000 acres of West Texas farmland. The Roscoe Wind Complex, which began construction in 2007 and sprawls across four counties near Roscoe, is generating its full capacity of 781.5 megawatts, enough to power 230,000 homes, the German company E.ON Climate and Renewables North America said. “This is truly a significant milestone for us,” said Patrick Woodson, the company’s chief development officer. “In three years to be able to take this project from cotton fields to the biggest wind farm in the world is something we’re very proud of.” The project, which cost more than $1 billion, involved negotiations with 300 landowners and contains a mix of different turbines made by several companies including Mitsubishi, General Electric, and Siemens.
The complex is about 220 miles west of Dallas and 300 miles south of the land where billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens had planned an even larger wind farm before he scrapped the idea in July.
Texas leads the U.S. in wind power production, and this wind farm tops the capacity record of 735.5 megawatts set by another West Texas farm southwest of Abilene.
Renewable energy makes up a small fraction of the electricity grid, but the wind and solar sectors were among the fastest growing in the U.S. before the recession. Wind power in Texas has grown again this year but has slowed from the 2008 rate.
“We are expecting ‘09 to be a somewhat smaller year overall, but still a fairly solid year,” said Kathy Belyeu of the American Wind Energy Association.
At the Roscoe wind farm, the turbines range in size from about 350 feet to 415 feet tall, and they are generally spaced about 900 feet apart, Woodson said. The land is leased, mostly from dryland cotton farmers who continue to work the fields around them, Woodson said.
Texas is the leading U.S. producer of cotton, most of it from West Texas.
“It’s a use that appears to be quite complimentary,” Woodson said. “This whole community was extremely welcoming to us.”
E.ON has facilities around the state, but it could be awhile before the company builds more huge wind farms in West Texas because of the glut of wind companies and lack of transmission lines, Woodson said.
The state is planning more lines from West Texas to more heavily populated areas, but they won’t be completed for at least two more years.
Pickens cited the transmission problem when he bailed out on his planned wind farm. He had already invested $2 billion in 687 turbines when he pulled the plug on the 200,000-acre project.
E.ON is one of the top 10 wind power companies in the world, the company says on its Web site, with operations in the U.S. and Europe.
Additional article follows:
The world’s largest wind farm has made its debut in Texas, but unfortunately for T. Boone Pickens, it’s not the wind farm he was working on. The latest and largest wind farm in Texas is called the Roscoe Wind Complex, spans four counties near Roscoe, Texas, and is owned by German-based E.ON Climate & Renewables, one of the top wind power companies in the world.
Situated 300 miles south of where T. Boone Pickens planned to build a wind farm that would receive the same acclaim, Roscoe Wind Complex features 627 wind turbines and covers 100,000 acres of West Texas cotton farmland (where farmers will still continue to work the fields surrounding the turbines). At a more than $1 billion investment from E.ON, the Roscoe Wind Complex is far from a cheap endeavor, but still came in about $1 billion lower than the $2 billlion Pickens had already invested in his attempt at the world’s largest wind farm—and that was without his project ever reaching the stage of an operating wind farm.
Already generating at its full capacity of 781.5 megawatts, the Roscoe Wind Complex earns its ranking of world’s largest wind farm by a relatively small 46-megawatts more than the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center that held the previous record (also located in West Texas). Texas has been the leading state for wind capacity for the past three years and currently pulls in over 8,000 megawatts of wind power.
The wind power from the Roscoe Wind Complex is enough to power about 230,000 homes, but the lack of transmission lines available to transport wind power from its less-inhabited West Texas starting points to more populated areas could prevent more large-scale wind farms from moving in, at least until more lines are built.