GE to Invest $40 Million Plus Turbines in KS Wind Farm

Buffalo_Dunes1GE is investing $40 million in a wind project in Kansas. GE announced the expansion of its portfolio with Italian power company Enel to include investment of common equity and supplying turbines for the 250-megawatt Buffalo Dunes Wind Project:

Last year, the companies invested in the 235-megawatt Chisholm View wind project in Oklahoma, and in the 200-megawatt Prairie Rose wind project in Minnesota. Both projects also feature GE wind turbines. The GE unit and Enel Green Power North America also invested in the 101-megawatt Smoky Hills wind farm in Kansas and the 63-megawatt Snyder wind farm in Texas.

The transaction gives GE Energy Financial Services a majority, 51 percent, share of the Buffalo Dunes project being built near Garden City, Kansas in Finney, Grant and Haskell counties. Enel Green Power North America, maintains the other 49 percent ownership in the venture. In addition to the money, GE will supply 135 wind turbines for the project and will provide operations and maintenance after completion. Most of the energy generated is slated to go to Alabama Power Company under a 20-year agreement.

LuminAID Wins Clean Energy Challenge

Solar-powered inflatable light maker LuminAID Lab has been named the early-stage winner of the 2013 Clean Energy Challenge organized by the Clean Energy Trust. Bearing Analytics of Purdue University won the Student Challenge. Both companies received a $100,000 grant prize sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Inspired by the 2011 earthquake in Japan, LuminAID Lab’s founders designed a lightweight, ship-flat solar-powered light to provide light in natural disaster situations. The company has sold more than 30,000 units so far and is working on a next generation version, according to LuminAID co-founder Andrea Sreshta.

Bearing Analytics, of Purdue University, offers a patent-protected temperature and vibration sensing solution to the industrial bearing market. This technology allows users to predict bearing failure before it happens, helping to alleviate safety concerns, prevent costly gearbox failures in wind turbines, extend product lifetimes and Luminaid solar lightincrease energy efficiency. Bearing Analytics will go on to compete at the 2013 National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition in Washington, D.C. this summer.

Additional prizes were awarded to SmarterShade, SkySpecs, Amplified Wind Solutions and Ornicept. SmarterShade, an Indiana-based company that makes an innovative film system to instantly darken windows, received the $50,000 Chicago Lakeside Prize, sponsored by McCaffery Interests.

SkySpecs, a University of Michigan-based firm that uses an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, to monitor wind turbines, bridges and other infrastructure, won the $10,000 Invenergy Renewable Ideas prize.

Nicole Zmij, CEO of Amplified Wind Solutions out of Cleveland State University, was awarded the ComEd and Clean Energy Trust-sponsored Breaking Barriers in Cleantech award for her role as an outstanding female entrepreneur. Amplified Wind Solutions harnesses wind energy to self-power cell towers, particularly in remote locations.

“The Challenge is designed to uncover the very best in clean energy technology startups and kickstart their development,” said Amy Francetic, Clean Energy Trust executive director. “This year’s teams inspired us beyond expectation. The judging was very competitive. We are grateful for the support of our sponsors, board and judges for their help in creating more prizes for these creative entrepreneurs.”

Wind Turbine without Blades Debuts at Dutch University

EWICON1A university in the Netherlands debuts a wind turbine without blades, which means it produces no noise nor even casts any moving shadows.

The Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo recently installed the EWICON, or Electrostatic WInd energy CONvertor, which turns wind energy in electrical power without moving parts at the Delft University of Technology:

The Ewicon can be installed on land or sea, and can also be integrated in the roof of a tall building. The principle is as follows: Using high voltage, electrically charged droplets of water are produced in the horizontal elements. At the same time these horizontal elements, which are electrodes, generate an electric field. As the wind forces the electrically charged droplets against this electric field towards the earth, the converter is charged to DC.

This video also explains how the concept works:

This new type of wind turbine might be especially welcome in urban areas, where some opponents have complained about the noise and the repetitive shadows a traditional turbine casts.

Purdue Study: Indiana, Midwest Open to Wind Energy

Purdue University College of Agriculture funded studies shows Hoosiers, and possibly by extension, Midwesterners, are pretty receptive to wind energy. This school news release says that can even be true for areas that might have rejected wind turbine development:

prokopy1Linda Prokopy, an associate professor of natural resources planning, said much of the research on attitudes toward wind energy and wind farms has focused on coastal states and the reasons people don’t want turbines in their communities. She and Kate Mulvaney, a former graduate student, wanted to know how people in the Midwest feel about having wind farms in their communities and the factors that led some places to embrace or reject them.

Prokopy and Mulvaney published two studies on their results in the journals Energy Policy and Environmental Management. One focused on Benton County, Indiana, which has embraced wind farms. The other study compared Benton County with two other Indiana counties – Boone County, which rejected wind farm development, and Tippecanoe County, which at the time was still considering wind farms. The researchers conducted surveys and interviews and studied local newspaper articles on wind energy.

“We found that there is not a lot of opposition from the people in the Midwest,” Prokopy said. “And there are not a lot of perceived negative impacts from people who have or live near wind turbines.”

The survey found that more than 80 percent of respondents said they either supported wind farms in their counties or supported them with reservations. Those most opposed to wind turbines seemed to be those who worked in big cities, such as Indianapolis, but lived in rural areas. They were small in number but loud in opposition.

Wind Energy to Create Boon for Carbon Fiber Industry

Sancton Hill Wind Farm UK Photo Credit: Arnold UnderwoodBig gains in the wind energy industry will lead to gains in the carbon fiber industry. A new report from GBI Research shows that, globally, demand for carbon fiber, a technology making gains as a lighter, stronger alternative to current wind blade materials will nearly triple in the next few years:

[Global] carbon fiber demand will hit 153,700 tons in 2020, climbing from 52,500 tons in 2012 – a massive increase of 193% in just eight years.

Wind energy – a vital segment of the rapidly expanding renewable energy market – will be the key driver of the carbon fiber industry, says GBI Research. Currently, wind turbine blades constructed from Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) dominate the industry landscape, but due to their greater rigidity, lower weight and reduced cost, producers are making the move to carbon fiber alternatives.

Considering this shift in manufacturing materials, combined with the increasing deployment of wind farms across the world, GBI Research forecasts carbon fiber demand for the wind energy industry to jump from 12,270 tons in 2011 to 67,400 tons in 2020, making it the single largest carbon fiber end user segment by some margin.

Aircraft manufacturers are also expected to help drive the uptick in carbon fiber demand, with the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner a couple of the biggest users.

Read the report here.

New Wind Energy Solutions Sharie Derrickson Honored

Sharie Derrickson, Vice President of New Wind Energy Solutions in Nashville, TN, along with 13 other female military veterans, were recently honored by White House as part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future,” initiative. Fourteen female military veterans were selected that have provided exemplary leadership at the local, state or regional level.

“You are the leaders in our businesses and schools in our communities,” Mrs. Obama said. “You all are part of a long line of women who have broken barriers – defied 882296_10200953878758241_1589722989_oexpectations and served this country with unparalleled courage and determination. And the beautiful thing about our veterans – and this is especially true for our women veterans — is that long after you stop serving this country, you don’t stop serving it after you hang up your uniforms.”

Meeting the president and the first lady in the East Wing of the White House, Derrickson said, was an overwhelming experience. “They are rock stars, but so personable and warm. It is invigorating and re-energizing when you know that my passion of a sustainable world is shared all the way up the chain of command. They treated us like honored guests with the works – champagne, hor d’oeuvres, a military jazz band.”

New Wind President, Stuart Wiston, who attended the event, said he is proud to have Derrickson on his sustainability team. “Our company makes it a priority to hire veterans because they bring so much to the table. Getting Sharie was a stroke of luck. Her dedication to her job is unsurpassed and that is a trait I find in all my former military employees. She is a well-spoken advocate for what we do here and she deserved this recognition from the White House not only as a female veteran but as a spokesman for global sustainability. She works hard to help corporations save money and enhance their communities and not be a burden on them by using best practices. She cares about her clients. It’s not as much a business to her as it is a mission.” Continue reading

European Commission Releases ‘Green Paper’

wind turbinesThe European Commission has opened the debate on EU energy and climate policy after 2020 – offering the energy industry the prospect of the long-term clarity and stability needed for large, long-term investments. The European Commission’s Green Paper on a “2030 framework for climate and energy policies,” presents 2030 targets as a key policy option.

“It is important to put long-term climate and renewable energy policies in place, and the European Commission and Council already agree that an increase in renewable energy is a ‘no-regrets’ option,” said Justin Wilkes, Director of Policy of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). “Energy policy debate over the coming months will be crucial to Europe’s future.”

¨Member States must now join the European Parliament and the Energy and Climate Action Commissioners in support of a 2030 renewable energy target, together with a greenhouse gas target. This would allow Europe to replace fossil fuel imports with a thriving European wind energy industry generating large amounts of zero-emissions renewable power and technology exports,” continued Wilkes.

He concluded, “Setting a binding 2030 renewable energy target would help the achievement of the 2020 targets, by providing the wind sector with the clarity needed to make the necessary long-term investments, thereby driving down capital costs as well as the cost of capital.”

Renewable Energy Up, Enery Consumption, CO2 Down

According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with data through December 31, 2012, renewable energy sources and natural gas expanded rapidly during the Obama Administration’s first term while coal, nuclear power, oil imports and use, energy consumption, and CO2 emissions all declined significantly.

Comparing data for 2008 (last year of the Bush Administration) to data for 2012 (last year of the Obama Administration’s first term), domestic energy production from renewable energy sources (i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind) grew by 23.48 percent with wind and solar more than doubling their output.

EIA Primary Energy OverviewBy comparison, total domestic energy production from all sources increased by just 8.15 percent with domestic natural gas and crude oil production growing by 18.71 percent and 29.47 percent respectively. Moreover, during the same period, nuclear power output declined by 4.47 percent and domestic coal production dropped by 13.28 percent. Total energy use declined by 4.16 percent, petroleum consumption decreased by 6.95 percent, CO2 emissions dropped by 9.38 percent, and imports of crude oil and petroleum products fell by 17.32 percent.

“The numbers speak for themselves – notwithstanding politically-inspired criticism, the energy policies pioneered by the Obama Administration have generated dramatic growth rates for renewable energy during the past four years, while significantly reducing oil imports and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The investments in sustainable energy made by the federal government as well as state officials and private funders have paid off handsomely underscoring the short-sightedness of seemingly endless proposals to slash or discontinue such support.”

Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), renewable energy sources accounted for 11.23 percent of domestic energy production in 2012 – compared to 9.84 percent in 2008. In fact, renewable energy sources provided 10.47 percent more energy in 2012 than did nuclear power, although nuclear still provides a larger share of the nation’s electricity (18.97% vs. 12.22%).

During the first four years of the Obama Administration, hydropower production grew by 7.01 percent, geothermal by 18.23 percent, biofuels by 40.66 percent, solar by 138.20 percent, and wind by 149.27 percent. Only biomass dipped – by 0.89 percent. Hydropower accounted for 30.21 percent of domestic energy production from renewable sources in 2012, followed by biomass (27.61%), biofuels (21.94%), wind (15.30%), geothermal (2.55%), and solar (2.39%). Note” These figures may not fully reflect the total contribution from renewable energy sources inasmuch as EIA data does not totally account for distributed, non-grid connected applications.

Wind Tax Credits Helpful But Require a Little Help

KarlovCredits for wind energy production and investment were approved as part of the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff at the beginning of this year. But deciding which credit is right for your operation and investment takes some good professional advice. Leah Karlov is a lawyer at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, a firm that specializes in the domestic sector, especially renewable energy tax credits. She spoke with Joanna to explain some of the implications of the wind energy credits and what they mean to the industry and investors.

“I think [the tax credits] stabilize the development and investment development,” Leah explained, pointing out that the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) have been renewed through the end of this year. One of the best features of the credit is that the project doesn’t have to be finished and placed in service by the end of this year, as with previous versions of these tax credits, just starting construction. “What this is going to do is allow projects that were tabled because they could not meet the placed-in-service deadline to come back into action.”

But just being able to use a credit doesn’t tell an operation which credit they SHOULD use. For example, when comparing the Investment versus the Production Tax Credits, Leah said you need to understand the difference. For one, the ITC is a one-time 30 percent credit on what you invest, and you have to be invested in the project for five years or the tax credit is prorated for every year not involved. And even foreign investors and producers can take advantage of these credits. It really comes down to getting good advice on which one is right … or even a combination of credits that are right for your situation.

“Start talking to your counsel and to your accountants and anybody you’ve been in discussion with in respect to projects that haven’t started yet. If you’ve got something in the pipeline, I’d start talking to the people who can help you get that moving, because this is the opportunity now to commence construction and get it going. There’s a chance to do it now.”

Listen to Joanna’s interview with Leah here: Interview with Leah Karlov

Global Wind Day 2013 Photo Competition

Global Wind Day logoThe European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) have launched a global photo competition – ‘Discover the stories behind wind energy’. Deadline for submissions is May 5, 2013. The first prize winner will receive a 1,000 Euro voucher. Second prizes of 250 Euros will be awarded by region. The winning photographs will be displayed in the European Parliament in Brussels in June. They will also be published in the renewable energy newspaper ‘Recharge‘ and EWEA’s magazine ‘Wind Directions‘.

Prize winners will be announced on Global Wind Day, the worldwide day ‘to discover the power of wind energy’ that occurs annually on June 15 with several hundred events, exhibitions, open wind farms and local activities organized in about 40 countries all around the globe, as well as online actions.

You can find information on the photo competition here.