DF Cast: Wind Energy Tax Credit Welcomed in Iowa

Probably no one in the country was more pleased to see the renewal of the wind energy production tax credit than the folks in Iowa, a place that has become a real leader nationwide in wind energy. During the recent Iowa Wind Energy Day, officials and advocates for wind energy expressed their appreciation for the extension… and the hope that it could become more permanent to give more stability to the green industry.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we hear from Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, President of the Board for the Iowa Wind Energy Association Kathy Law and Executive Director of Iowa Wind Energy Association Harold Prior as they talk about what wind power has meant to their state and what potential it holds for the entire country… especially the rural areas.

You can listen to the Domestic Fuel Cast here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Wind Energy PTC Passes

You can also subscribe to the DomesticFuel Cast here.

And check out Joanna’s 2013 Iowa Wind Energy Day Photo Album.

Regional Clean Energy Challenge Winners Named

Aerosol Control Technologies (ACT) of Washington University in St. Louis, has won the $10,000 Missouri Clean Energy Student Challenge. The team will compete for more than $300,000 in prizes in the second annual Clean Energy Student Challenge on April 4, 2013 in Chicago. ACT is developing an advanced particulate matter capture system that will significantly improve diesel engine efficiency using electrostatic precipitators.

missouri student clean energy challenge“ACT absolutely exceeded expectations and brought a first-class business plan with cutting-edge technology to the Challenge,” said Joshua Campbell, executive director of the Missouri Energy Initiative who held the Missouri competition. “This was their second year and their success clearly demonstrates what a tremendous learning experience it is. They took what they learned last year and created an application that I think could take them to the national competition.”

Applications to the Missouri Clean Energy Student Challenge were submitted in a range of technology areas from waste-to-energy solutions and biofuels to solar cells and new wind energy innovations. As the Missouri winner, ACT will compete in the 2013 Challenge and will receive mentoring and training to prepare business plan presentations to a judging panel comprised of venture capitalists, corporate investors and business leaders. The winner of the 2013 Student Challenge will compete in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Competition in Washington, D.C. this summer.

“The Student Challenge is truly bringing the best and the brightest students from some of our nation’s most prestigious universities to the forefront of the clean energy world,” added Amy Francetic, executive director of the Clean Energy Trust. “They have taken wonderfully innovative technologies and built viable business plans around them.”

More Transmission Key Policy Issue for Wind Industry

Wind on the Wires is an organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota launched about a decade ago to focus on wind policy issues and wind transmission line issues. To learn more about some key policy initiatives for 2013, I spoke with Beth Soholt, Executive Director, who was in Des Moines, Iowa during Iowa Wind Energy Day.

Beth SoholtThe big issue for 2013? “Quite simply its more transmission,” explained Soholt. However, she said, this is a long process. First you have to study where transmission needs to go. You need to study how much transmission is needed for what you want to achieve, and then you have to decide where it’s going to be built. You also have to get somebody who is willing to build it, and this includes convincing them it needs to be built. Once that has been achieved, the project must go through a state regulatory process, and it needs to be funded.

“So the planning piece on what to build and where to build it and the cost recovery piece are two of the big barriers,” said Soholt.

The industry, advocates, think tanks and more banter around numbers in the dozens of billions as the cost to build the needed transmission. But Soholt said that transmission is actually a very small percentage of a consumer’s bill – only about 7 percent. The rest of the bill is to pay from getting the energy from the generator to your house, and other kinds of investments.

Even though this is a relatively small piece of the overall pie, this is what the utilities know how to do, said Soholt.The harder piece is having them include investments for large amounts of renewable energy.

“This is where Wind on the Wires comes in and can sit down with them and educate them in various stakeholder settings,” said Soholt.  The organization can put together a package that lots of different kinds of stakeholders can support and they can also address the cost allocation piece, i.e. who should pay? “If we spread out the cost of transmission among a lot of users it becomes a very, very small percentage for everyone,” said Soholt.

While the “road to market” may be a long one, Soholt said utilities need to go ahead and start implementing.

You can learn more about policy issues, the road to market, and next steps for Iowa’s wind energy industry in my full interview with Beth: Key Policy Issue for Wind Industry: More Transmission.

See the 2013 Iowa Wind Energy Day Photo Album.

Battery Storage Project at Texas Wind Farm Completed

Duke Energy Renewables has completed a 36-megawatt (MW) energy storage and power management system at its 153 MW Notrees Windpower Project in West Texas. Development of the storage system began in 2009 with a $22 million grant matching from the Department of Energy and in December the project became fully operational.

“Battery storage is an important innovation to address the variability of wind and solar energy generation,” said Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf. “Developing an expertise in this advanced technology will enable us to expand the use of renewable energy, better integrate it into the power grid and become even more efficient at serving our customers.”

Notrees_picAustin-based Xtreme Power designed and installed the 36 MW-capacity Dynamic Power Resource at Notrees and will continue to operate the system. The battery storage project will help mitigate the variability of wind power, storing excess wind energy and discharging it whenever demand for electricity is highest. The system will also stabilize the frequency of electricity traveling throughout the power grid. Duke Energy is working closely with Energy Reliability Council of Texas, which signals to the battery storage system to either dispatch stored energy to increase frequency or absorb energy to decrease frequency.

“Completion of this project represents a singular success for Duke Energy, for the DOE, and for the entire energy storage community in the U.S.” said Dr. Imre Gyuk, program manager for energy storage at the U.S. Department of Energy. “It will demonstrate the capability of energy storage to mitigate the variability of wind energy and to contribute to the stability of the grid”.

The Electric Power Research Institute will collect performance data from the battery storage system and help assess the potential for broader adoption of energy storage solutions throughout the industry. Technical and economic data will also be analyzed for DOE by Sandia National Laboratory. Results from the storage project at Notrees wind farm will be shared publicly through the DOE’s Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse.

Great Model – UK-Ireland Wind Power Project

The Dublin Energy Minister of Ireland and the UK Secretary of State for Energy have paved the way for the export of Ireland’s wind energy to Britain. The hope is that this project will be a model for other countries as the development of a pan-European electricity grid continues.

Wind farm in Ireland“With greater grid integration the UK and Ireland can expect more independence from imported fossil fuels, lower power prices thanks to greater competition, and more zero-carbon wind energy,” said Justin Wilkes, Policy Director at the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “This type of win-win-win-wind solution is exactly what consumers, the UK, Ireland and the wind industry will benefit from as Europe’s electricity systems and markets become more integrated. Wind energy is a key driver of this much-needed grid integration.”

The recently published Energy Bill in the UK allows for the direct import of renewable power from neighboring EU Member States, and the Irish government has made clear its support for the export of wind energy from Ireland. In response, EWEA is urging the Irish and UK governments to initiate concrete plans to ensure the memorandum of understanding results in a stable legislative framework which benefits consumers and the wind industry in both Ireland and the UK.

There are a number of UK-Ireland projects under development including the 5,000 MW Energy Bridge project which would deliver Irish onshore wind power to the west coast of the UK, and the 1,100 MW Codling Wind Park which could deliver offshore electricity for 160,000 UK homes by 2020.

EU Offshore Wind Has Good 2012

Cumulative_and_annual_offshore_wind_installations_1993-2012_by_MWDuring 2012, Europe installed and grid connected 239 offshore wind turbines – more than on per working day. There are now a total of 2,662 turbines in 61 offshore wind farms in 10 European countries. The 293 turbines installed in 2012 represent 1,165 Megawatts (MW), an increase of 33 percent compared to 2011 installations of 874 MW. This brings total offshore wind energy capacity to 4,995 MW.

Heading in 2013, EK remains the leader with nearly 60 percent of Europe’s offshore capacity, followed by Denmark (18%), Belgium (8%) and Germany (6%).

Offshore wind power is growing solidly,” said European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) Policy Director Justin Wilkes. “But solid installation figures do not alter the fact that the wind industry is being hit by political and regulatory instability, the economic crisis, the higher cost of capital and austerity. Europe is a world leader in offshore wind energy and could be creating even more jobs if governments gave greater policy certainty to investors, and resolved grid connection problems.”

The turbines installed in 2012 represent investments of around 4 billion Euros in offshore wind farms. Offshore prospects for 2013 and 2014 are positive with 14 offshore projects under construction, due to increase installed capacity by a further 3,300 MW, and bring total offshore capacity in Europe to 8,300 MW.

Iberdrola Renewables Completes 3 Wind Farms

IRI_Groton-3336Iberdrola Renewables has completed three new wind energy projects in the U.S. The wind farms were all commissioned in December 2012, representing a total investment of approximately $700 million, and most of the power has already been purchased via long-term contracts. The three projects include:

  • The Manzana Wind Power Project located in Kern County, California includes 126 GE 1.5MW wind turbines, with the capacity to produce 189 MW of wind energy each year. Lease payments to landowners are estimated to be more than $30 million over the life of the wind farm.
  • The Hoosac Wind Power Project is located in Monroe, Massachusetts and expands into Florida, Massachusetts. The wind farm consists of 19 GE 1.5 MW wind turbines with the ability to generate 28.5 MW annually. Lease payments to landowners are estimated to be $3 million over the life of the wind farm.
  • The Groton Wind Farm is situated along two ridge features in the town of Groton, New Hampshire. The wind farm consists of 24 Gamesa G87, 2.0 MW wind turbines and has the capacity to produce 48MW per year.

“These projects have begun delivering the environmental benefits of clean, renewable energy, but they also create significant economic impacts resulting from hiring numerous local workers and companies, and making long-term tax and lease payments to the local communities,” said Martín Mugíca, president and CEO of Iberdrola Renewables, LLC. “Each project represents the culmination of years of hard work, and we could not do it without the vision and support of our shareholders, customers and employees.”

Earlier in 2012, Iberdrola Renewables completed a 46-MW project in Pennsylvania, a 100-MW project in Iowa and a 304-MW project in Ohio.

Iowa Wind Energy Association Announces 6th Conference

The Iowa Wind Energy Association has announced the dates for its 6th Annual Wind Conference: March 25-27, 2013 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. This year’s event will focus on four general themes that reflect the national and world leadership position that Iowa has achieved in the wind energy sector. Topics include technology development, small and community wind, operation and maintenance, education and training, and research. Confirmed speakers include Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.

Prior Wind Energy DayGeneral session presentations will focus on national policy and wind energy growth and sustainability issues. Many of these sessions will focus on the utility scale segment of the wind energy industry with a major presentation about transmission development and large scale wind farm deployment in Iowa and the nation.

Again this year, IWEA will provide a Research Poster Display project, sponsored by Exelon Energy, that will provide an opportunity to highlight research being done to improve the function and profitability of the wind energy industry.

I had the opportunity to speak with IWEA Executive Director Harold Prior, Ph.D. during Iowa Wind Energy Day at the Iowa State Capitol. Prior said that the conference has a good history of attracting the six Iowa Congressional delegation who give attendees an update on public policy issues in Washington.

Prior noted that the wind industry is a relatively young industry and one of the key benefits of the conference is the ability for IWEA members and attendees to network.  Despite its youth, Iowa is the nation’s leader in the number of wind energy manufacturing companies and number of wind energy jobs. Prior said Iowa is ranked as the 7th best wind resource in the nation and the state is a central location with convenient access to major navigable rivers and the national interstate highway system.

For more information about the conference, listen to my interview with Harold here: 6th Annual Wind Energy Conference

Iowa Wind Energy Day Huge Success

branstad-iwea-13January 16, 2013 was Iowa Wind Energy Day, and dozens of companies showcased their wind energy technologies to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad along with state legislators. The second annual event was hosted by the Iowa Wind Energy Association (IWEA). Branstad gave remarks as part of the program, and congratulated IWEA for its fifth year of continuous operations. “You sure have done a lot to make Iowa a better place these last five years,” said Brandstad who was recently the chairman of the Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition. “And you have build an impressive membership of nearly 200 members representing all aspects of wind energy.”

“As governor way back in 1983, my first in office, I had the honor of signing the first renewable generation portfolio. And as a result of that, we now have over 20 other states that have copied Iowa’s law,” noted Branstad.

Branstad said that Iowa remains a “real leader” in installation and capacity. Iowa is number one in its electricity produced by wind exceeding 20 percent, more than any other state. “Something we can be very proud of,” he said. “We’re first in the number of wind energy related manufacturing facilities and wind related businesses as well. Perhaps the most important impact wind has had on our state is high quality, good paying jobs and also been a good source of rental income for our farmers,” continued Branstad.

He said he was pleased to see the wind Production Tax Credit was passed as part of the fiscal cliff legislation that passed on New Year’s day. “Now don’t get me wrong, the fiscal cliff package was a mixed bag, but at least we got this important piece of legislation passed as part of the package,” he said. “While the deal is certianly not perfect, I’m happy to have played a leadership role on behalf of the industry and how important this is to the Iowa economy.”

Listen to Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad’s full remarks here: Iowa Wind Energy Day

See the 2013 Iowa Wind Energy Day Photo Album.

U.S. Advanced Energy to Grow 19% Year-Over-Year

aeereportcoverA new report shows that advanced energy became a $1.1 trillion market globally in 2011, outpacing even pharmaceutical manufacturing worldwide, and the U.S. sector is expected to have grown by 19 percent last year, with American revenues rising to $157 billion. The report from Advanced Energy Economy highlights how in 2011 alone, this advanced energy sector, including hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, waste and biomass, generated more than $20 billion in federal, state and local taxes:

“Advanced energy is what happens when energy meets 21st Century technologies,” said Graham Richard, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy, a national business organization. “This report defines precisely, for the first time, the size, breadth, and scope of the advanced energy industry. With a $1 trillion global market and a U.S. industry that is already bigger by revenue than trucking, advanced energy is a significant contributor to the economy today and has greater potential for tomorrow.”

AEE defines advanced energy as the best available commercial technologies for meeting energy needs today and tomorrow. With global energy consumption projected to rise nearly 40 percent by 2030, future prosperity depends on meeting this growing demand with energy that is secure, clean and affordable.

Officials compare the potential of the advanced energy sector to transform society and the economy to how the Internet has created so many new opportunities. AEE admits that its estimates might be a bit conservative, understating the size and extent of advanced energy economic activity in the U.S. and around the world.