Oregon New Home to Large Wind Farm

The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, owned by Caithness Energy, is operating near Arlington, Oregon, and has the ability to generate 845 Megawatts of clean energy per year. A kick-off event marked the official commissioning of the wind farm.

“This is a great day for Gilliam and Morrow counties, for Oregon, and for the rest of the United States,” said Senator Wyden, who attended the ceremony. “This project proves that we can create jobs and lift up the rural economy by generating clean, carbon-free, renewable energy while still allowing local ranchers to graze their herds on the surrounding land just as they have for generations. That’s why I fought so hard to make sure Shepherds Flat stayed on track, and why I’m proud to be standing here today.”

Many of the state’s political leaders were on hand for the “first turn of the wind turbine” including Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Oregon Representative Greg Walden. The wind farm is one of the largest wind farms in the world. According to Caithness Energy, the wind farm will eliminate 1.483 million metric tons of CO2 annually, the equivalent of taking approximately 260,000 cars off the road. Producing an estimated 2 billion kWh each year, the wind farm will have an annual economic impact of $37 million for the state. Additionally, the project employed over 400 workers during its construction, and will permanently employ 45 workers.

The commissioning of Caithness Shepherds Flat could be one of the last new wind farms to go online this year if the Production Tax Credit (PTC) is not extended. Many wind manufacturing companies have already begun to lay off vital workers due to industry uncertainty. But at least for today, the industry has something positive to celebrate and an example of how the wind energy industry is benefiting America in many ways.

“Caithness Shepherds Flat is a prime example of smart energy – energy that simultaneously bolsters the economy, creates American jobs, and enhances our environment for future generations,” added Derrel Grant, Vice President of Development at Caithness Energy. “By utilizing domestic renewable energy, Caithness Shepherds Flat will help make our country energy independent and our economy prosperous.”

Institute for Energy Innovation Breaks Ground

The future Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation is one step closer to reality today at Carnegie Mellon University with the official groundbreaking ceremony. The center will be focused on research and education to improve energy efficiency and develop clean energy sources. The institute was made possible by a lead gift from CMU alumni Sherman Scott (E’66), president and founder of Delmar Systems, and his wife, Joyce Bowie Scott (A’65), a trustee of the university. The institute is named for Sherman’s father, Wilton E. Scott.

A report recently issued by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development highlighted the need for energy-related workers before the end of this decade. One goal of institute will be to develop new innovative energy technologies and create an improved understanding of how to promote wide adoption through better regulation and public policy.

“The Scott Institute is a university-wide effort that brings together more than 100 CMU professors and researchers to solve some of our toughest energy challenges,” said CMU President Jared L. Cohon. “I thank Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott not only for their generous gift, but also for their vision in helping to create this institute. They realize the fundamental importance of developing sustainable energy solutions for America and the world.”

The institute will support teams of CMU engineers, scientists, economists, architects, policy specialists and others who will collboratively tackle a range of issues, including developing more efficient energy solutions that reduce carbon emissions; smart grid technology to enable the use of large amounts of variable wind and solar power; and new advanced materials and processes to produce and store energy, increase efficiency and reduce waste.

Sherman Scott, who built Delmar Systems into a leader in mooring systems for the offshore oil and gas industry, added, “By bringing together experts from a range of disciplines, Carnegie Mellon is the perfect place to help meet the energy challenges of the future. Energy is a precious resource, and Carnegie Mellon’s systems approach can create solutions that ensure we produce and use energy more efficiently.”

Energy Mix Must Reflect Future

A new report released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) argues that European Union (EU) electricity market rules must reflect the energy production mix of the future. This will help ensure a flexible power system with a large-scale uptake of wind power and other renewable energy sources.

The report comes as the Single European Act – creating a single market in goods, capital, people and services – turns 25. However, there is still no single market in electricity. EU Heads of State have agreed that Europe should have an internal energy market by 2014, but the EU is not on track to meet that target.

To this end, the report recommends creating a level playing field for renewable energy sources by tackling structural market deficits such as:

  • Removing regulated prices and excessive market concentration to enable small-  and medium-sized power generators to enter the market.
  • Removing coal, gas and nuclear subsidies before they are removed from mature renewable technologies like onshore wind.
  • Creating functioning markets covering larger geographical regions within Europe so as to reduce the need to balance variable renewables like wind and solar.
  • Developing intraday and balancing markets at national and cross-border levels.
  • Creating new markets for ‘grid support services,’ supporting the functioning of the grid to ensure a secure supply of electricity, instead of introducing market-distorting capacity payments.

“The European wind industry strongly supports the creation of a single market in electricity,” said Paul Wilczek, Senior Regulatory Affairs Advisor, Grids and Internal Electricity Market, at EWEA. “If Europe is serious about decarbonising the power sector in a cost-effective manner, it has to create a market that facilitates this transformation. EWEA’s new report sets out how a single market in electricity could simultaneously create benefits for all producers and consumers and integrate renewable energy sources.”

This October the European Commission is set to publish a communication on the internal energy market which is expected to contain an action plan to take Europe closer to a single energy market.

PTC Stalls, Wind Energy Workers Laid Off

As the Production Tax Credit (PTC) remains stalled in Congress, worker layoffs in the wind energy industry are rising. The Iowa Wind Energy Association has been forewarning legislators that if the PTC is not extended, thousands of Americans could lose their jobs.  Proof: Siemen’s has laid off more than 400 workers in its Fort Madison wind turbine blade plant. Other companies that have let employees go include Clipper and Vestas among others.

Layoffs will accelerate as many wind farms currently under construction will be completed by December 31, 2012. Without the security of the Production Tax Credit, investors are not moving forward with the monies needed to build or expand wind farms. This in turn dries up demand for the entire wind turbine supply chain.

Iowa leads the nation in the number of people employed with component manufacturers and wind related companies. The industry totaled nearly 7,000 across the state until the layoffs began. Following the Siemen’s announcement, 10 percent of Iowa’s wind energy workforce has disappeared.

On the national level, the failure to extend the PTC could cost as many as 37,000 jobs according to estimates by Navigant Consulting. A delay could reduce the expansion of the wind energy industry between 75 percent to 90 percent compared to previous years.

The lowa Congressional Delegation is leading the effort to expand the PTC in both the Senate and House. Yet the Iowa Wind Energy Association notes that legislators need more help from Senators and Representatives from other states to grow a bipartisan coalition to move the extension forward. This can be done through grassroots efforts including contacting your local legislator to let them know how important the wind energy industry is to America.

Wind Tax Credit Extension Critical

The Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, an information network for local chambers of commerce, is calling for Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the wind industry. There are 240 chamber of commerce members from 47 states supporting PTC and in a letter explained that the expiration of the PTC would hurt local economies, send jobs elsewhere and risk ceding America’s clean energy leadership to our global competitors.

“As leaders of our local business communities, we’ve seen firsthand the economic development benefits of wind energy,” said Jim Heeter, President and CEO of the Greater Kansas City (MO) Chamber of Commerce. “From Iowa and Kansas to South Dakota, Indiana, Texas and Ohio, wind energy is helping us attract new clean energy companies and capital, while making our existing businesses in manufacturing, construction and other sectors viable into the future. We need Congress to support our local communities by extending this critical tax incentive.”

The PTC is seeing strong bipartisan support across the county and last week, a diverse coalition of groups from Iowa also called on Congress to extend the tax credit. The program is important as cities and regions across the country work on diversifying their local economies with the aid of renewable energy, including wind energy.

Nearly 500 facilities across 44 states now manufacture for the wind energy industry, creating new opportunities for American businesses up and down the supply chain. The Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy cite that with the support of the PTC for wind, 60 percent of a wind turbine’s value is now produced within the United States, compared to 25 percent prior to 2005.

“Local chambers know that for their local wind energy businesses and suppliers to grow, investors need certainty in the wind market,” said Diane Doucette, Executive Director of Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy. “The PTC is the key mechanism creating that certainty. We’re already seeing layoffs throughout the industry as Congress stalls on the PTC. Allowing the PTC to expire would slow wind projects, decrease orders for our manufacturers, and result in even more jobs lost around the country.”

As the chambers’ letter states, the PTC has enabled the wind industry to slash wind energy costs by 90 percent since 1980, making wind energy a viable and cost-effective source of electricity in communities across the nation. Electricity prices are set by the operating costs of power plants, including the cost of fuel inputs. So once turbines are installed in a particular location, wind energy places downward pressure on local electricity prices.

Offshore Wind Part of Europe’s Blue Growth

The European Commission is looking at the marine and maritime industry to help Europe’s economic recovery. The European Commission has released its ‘Blue Growth‘ strategy and included in areas of growth is the offshore wind energy industry.

The European Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is predicting the offshore wind energy industry will have a five-fold increase in offshore wind jobs within the decade. In support of this, ‘Blue Growth’ includes offshore wind as a key element of current and future economic growth. The industry contributes to Europe’s competitiveness while also benefiting other industrial sectors such as the manufacturers of the wind turbines and its components.

“EWEA has estimated 35,000 people were employed in jobs related to the offshore wind sector in 2010,” said Anne-Bénédicte Genachte, EWEA’s regulatory affairs advisor for offshore wind, “and this will increase to 170,000 by 2020. EWEA welcomes the Commission’s strategy for the maritime sector and hopes concrete policy initiatives will follow. More specifically, EWEA looks forward to the legislative proposal on Maritime Spatial Planning the Commission should publish soon. Maritime Spatial Planning is key to Blue Growth and should not be further delayed.”

EWEA says to achieve the industry’s expected growth the offshore wind sector requires a policy framework that provides long term regulatory certainty.

AWEA Wants New 2030 Renewable Energy Target

Several Ministers met earlier this week at an informal Energy Council meeting in Nicosia. In response, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) warned that their credibility was at risk if they debated future renewable energy policy without considering a new 2030 European Union (EU) Renewable Energy target. The discussion was not on the group’s agenda.

“There is no point debating future renewable energy policy without discussing a 2030 target,” warned Stephane Bourgeois, Head of Regulatory Affairs at EWEA in Brussels. “It makes no sense to ignore the one policy that has worked most successfully up to now. Ministers should recognise the benefits of such a target.”

The European Commission has released information about its Renewable Energy Strategy. The accompanying impact assessment was believed to support a 2030 Renewable energy target. This, the strategy outlined, would create more economic activity, reduce fossil fuel dependence, and create more innovation and competition across the European technology sector.

Bourgeois added, “an EU renewables policy cannot be based only on emission reductions and decarbonisation, as some ministers might wish. Only by enabling investment in renewables can the EU cut the cost of fuel imports and be sure to create European jobs.”

Iowa Groups Call for Renewal of PTC

Nearly 65 entities in Iowa have come together from all walks including agriculture, education, labor, business, public health, and the environment, in a call to Iowa’s congressional delegation to extend the wind production tax credit (PTC) for wind. A letter was sent to the legislators highlighting the wide reach of the wind industry from manufacturing jobs to income for farmers to the generation of taxes for rural communities.

The letter states: “The wind industry in Iowa has diversified our rural economy. Since 1992, 2,978 wind turbines have been installed on 104 utility scale and community scale wind farms. Iowa now has 4,322 MW of electric generation capacity and 450 MW are under construction. This represents nearly $5 billion funneling through Iowa’s economy. Thousands of Iowans depend on the wind industry to support their families through construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance jobs. In addition, land owner easement payments to farmers exceed $11 million annually and are extremely important in trying economic times.”

Signers of the letter included the Iowa Wind Energy Association, the Iowa Environmental Council and Environmental Law & Policy Center. Other signers included the Iowa Farm Bureau; Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council and all three public universities and every community college in the state; and the Iowa chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“We often remind people that wind supports as many as 7,000 jobs in Iowa,” said Harold D. Prior, executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. “This letter shows the breadth of the impact of wind, which ranges from our schools which are educating the renewable energy leaders of tomorrow, to the labor groups who are building wind in Iowa, to our farmers who benefit from the added income of land leases.”

Renewable energy, including wind, is a hot topic in the presidential campaign and in the state campaign ads are running about the importance of the industry in Iowa.

Steve Falck, senior policy analyst with the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Des Moines said, “Iowa was the first state to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind and we could get so much further. But without renewal of the PTC we the breaks will slam on Iowa wind, all of this economic progress will be reversed, jobs will be lost, and income for farmers will dry up.”

Indiana Tech Installs Wind Turbine on Campus

Universities across the country have been integrating renewable energy classes but Indiana Tech has gone one step further than most. They have installed a wind turbine on its Fort Wayne campus to help engineering students learn about alternative energy. The turbine is located next to the Zollner Engineering Center and a gift from the Steel Dynamics Foundation covered the cost of the equipment, installation and software.

The wind turbine tower is 120 feet tall and the blades have a diameter of 26.5 feet. The total height is 134 feet and is expected to generated between 700 and 1,000 kilowatt hours per month. This is approximately the amount of energy one average size household uses each month. The power produced by the wind turbine will flow back to the power grid and will be credited to Indiana Tech’s electric bill.

“This an excellent teaching tool for our students,” said Dr. John Renie, associate professor of mechanical engineering. “We’ll have real-time monitoring equipment so that students and others can see how much energy is being produced.”

Indiana Tech offers a bachelor’s degree in energy engineering, and the wind turbine on campus will allow firsthand study of wind power. The operation of the turbine also will have applications in the mechanical engineering and electrical engineering programs.

Wind Blades By Rail

As you travel along major U.S. highways, it is not unusual to see semis traveling in packs of three transporting wind turbine blades. But have you ever seen them blow by on rail? Not yet but this may be a new transportation option going forward. For the first time in Europe, 55-metre long wind blades have been delivered from Germany to Denmark by rail.

“We took an innovative approach to lowering the cost of energy while at the same time reducing impact on the environment,” said Mette Heileskov Bülow, Transportation Chief Specialist at Vestas. The company coordinated the first blade-by-train transport that consisted of nine wind blades manufactured at Vestas’ production facility to the port of Esbjerg, Denmark. The trip took less than 20 hours; by road it would have taken 72 hours, nine trucks and 18 safety cars.

SNCF Geodis and Vestas are designing rail connections between Vestas’ production facilities, research centres, warehouses and erection locations throughout Europe. Vestas said changing the mode of transport for the majority of these onshore wind turbine components in Europe in the near future will reduce transportation cost. Early estimates indicate at least a 15 percent savings.

Pierre Blayau, CEO of SNCF Geodis, added, “This new transportation concept shows the beneficial strategic fit between SNCF Geodis and Vestas. Both our companies are role models for creating sustainable solutions in our respective industries.”