Wind Power Sees Gain in U.S.

Wind power provided over two-thirds (68.41%) of new electrical generating capacity in October 2014 in the U.S. according to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report. Five wind farms came online during the month in Texas, Nebraska, Michigan, Kansas and Colorado. These projects added 574 MW of new capacity.

eiaIn addition, seven “units” of biomass (102 MW) and five units of solar (31 MW) came online accounting for 12.16% and 3.69% of new capacity respectively. The balance came from three units of natural gas (132 MW – 15.73%). Moreover, for the eighth time in the past ten months, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for the majority of new U.S. electrical generation brought into service. Natural gas took the lead in the other two months (April and August).

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.39 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.:

  • hydro- 8.44%
  • wind – 5.39%
  • biomass – 1.38%
  • solar – 0.85%
  • geothermal steam – 0.33%

“Congress is debating whether to renew the production tax credit for wind and other renewable energy sources,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The continued rapid growth of these technologies confirms that the PTC has proven to be a very sound investment.”

ACCIONA Windpower to Supply IKEA Turbines

Apex Clean Energy has selected ACCIONA Windpower to provide wind turbines for its 165 MW Cameron Wind farm that will be purchased by IKEA upon completion. The Brownsville, Texas wind farm will feature the first U.S. installation of AW125/3000 turbines. Each turbine will have a rotor diameter of 125 meters and a 3 megawatt generator mounted on an 87.5 meter steel tower. The agreement includes the supply of 55 ACCIONA Windpower AW125/3000 turbines and a 20-year Full Service Warranty.

Acciona logo“ACCIONA and IKEA share the same commitment to a clean energy future, and we are proud that our innovative wind technology was selected to help IKEA meet its global sustainability goals. We are also pleased to collaborate with Apex Clean Energy, a prominent and respected wind energy company,” said Rafael Mateo, CEO of ACCIONA Energy.

ACCIONA plans to begin turbine deliveries in mid-2015, and the project is expected to reach commercial operation in late 2015. When completed. The project will be a key part of IKEA’s commitment to produce by 2020 as much renewable energy as the company consumes globally and will mark the single largest renewable energy investment made by the IKEA Group globally to date.

Mark Goodwin, Apex president, added, “We are very pleased to be working with ACCIONA on this important project. The Texas gulf coast has a very unique wind resource, and Cameron Wind will harness this power to provide clean, homegrown, affordable energy to the residents of South Texas.”

OwnEnergy Completes Windthorst II Wind Farm

OwnEnergy has completed the Windthorst II Wind farm located in Windthorst, Texas. The project was developed by OwnEnergy while Mortenson Construction was responsible for the engineering, procurement and construction of the project including erecting 28 Siemens turbines.

gI_161038_Windthorst-2-photo“Completing construction on the Windthorst II wind project, which is our sixth wind farm to spin and our seventh completed project overall, is a major milestone for OwnEnergy,” said OwnEnergy Founder and CEO Jacob Susman. “We are proud to demonstrate our construction and asset management capabilities with the completion of Windthorst II. What’s more, we are thrilled to work with BlackRock and Mortensen to bring clean, cost-competitive wind energy to Texas. We appreciate the long-term support from the community leaders and residents of Archer County, and we are looking forward to continuing our commitment to Texas’s clean energy economy.”

The Windthorst II project is the 26th wind facility Mortenson has built in Texas out of 140 wind energy projects.

“We are very pleased to have entered into a relationship with OwnEnergy as they continue to grow their wind portfolio and make their mark in the industry,” said Tim Maag, VP and general manager of Mortenson’s Wind Energy Group. “We applaud their growing commitment to building projects with local ownership.”

Wetzel Blade Wins Clean Energy Award

Wetzel Blade was awarded a 2014 Clean Energy Venture Award during the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s NREL Industry Growth Forum. The company won the honor for its work on a pre-fabricated, field-assembled turbine blade that boosts production capacity and outlasts current generation composite blades. The start-up company will receive in-kind commercialization support designed to help increase its chances of becoming commercially successful.

According to Wetzel Blade, the new blade technology is based on a space frame design and features independently fabricated Wetzel Blade Awardpultruded FRP spars. The parts are sized for easy transport and field-assembly, in similar fashion to high reliability military equipment.

According to Kyle Wetzel, CTO/Founder of Wetzel Blade and a well-published expert in wind blade design, “This concept emerged from a project that our parent company, Wetzel Engineering, was involved with in China. We were engineering a 100-meter blade for a 10MW turbine and wanted to eliminate shell panel buckling as a design driver. The balsa requirements presented another challenge – almost 10,000 kg of this expensive core material absorbing ~6,000kg of epoxy.”

Wetzel noted that 3-5 percent of total installed cost of each turbine is logged to transportation. However, their technology reduces these costs. The company is currently in the structural testing phase with plans to demonstrate a sub-scale prototype in early 2015. The project has been partially funded through an SBIR/STTR award from the DOE.

“Because of our involvement with the entire turbine lifecycle, we understand that to make a real shift in the economics, a blade design must generate more electricity, cost less to build and maintain, and be more efficient to transport and install,” added Webzel. “The industry is hungry for a solution that delivers on all those points.”

Gaelectric Opens Dunbeg Wind Farm

Gaelectric has begun producing power at its £58 million Dunbeg Wind Farm, which is located between Limavady and Coleraine in Northern Ireland. Dunbeg is one of the largest wind farms constructed on the island of Ireland. The 42 MW wind farm comprises 14 Enercon wind turbines (Model E82, each with the capacity to generate up to 3 MW) with a maximum tip height of 125 metres. It will generate sufficient renewable power to meet the electricity demand of nearly 24,000 homes on an annual basis.

Brendan McGrath, Gaelectric Group CEO, said, “Dunbeg marks a major milestone for our business and further strengthens Gaelectric’s platform within the Single Electricity Market (SEM) on the island of Ireland. Our total permitted portfolio now stands at 140 MWs in Northern Ireland and represGaelectric Opens £58 Million Dunbeg Wind Farm in Irelandents a total investment of approximately £170 million. This consolidates Gaelectric’s position as the largest indigenous renewable energy company in Northern Ireland.”

“Gaelectric has been progressing an ambitious wind energy development programme in Ireland, the United States centered on the State of Montana, and in energy storage utilising compressed air energy storage (CAES) technology in our CAES Project near Larne in Northern Ireland,” added McGrath. “The launch of Dunbeg is a fitting way to mark our 10 years in existence and a tribute to our internal team and our technology and funding partners who have made this happen.”

In the last three years, Gaelectric has secured planning approval for nine Northern Ireland Wind Farm developments, including Dunbeg. The company’s first operational Wind Farm in Northern Ireland, the £20 million Carn Hill Wind Farm located in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim was officially opened in May 2013. Gaelectric plans to commission its remaining seven NI Wind Farm projects by 2017.

U.S. Renewable Energy Industry Ready to Step Up

A new goal was announced during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing this week to double renewable energy in the 21 member economies by 2030. The renewable energy industry collectively came out and said they are ready to do their part. This new goal was a follow-up to last year’s commitment to encourage technology transfer and efforts to lower costs and attract private investment to the renewable energy industry.

“We appreciate the leadership that President Obama and the rest of these world leaders are showing on the critical task of rapidly scaling up low-carbon energy sources,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Here in America, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Vision for the growth of our industry, we can quadruple wind power by 2030 and save consumers money doing it, if policymakers keep supporting state renewable standards and federal tax incentives to attract the necessary private investment.”

Linda Church Ciocci, executive director, National Hydropower Association said on behalf of the hydro electric industry, “Hydropower is poised for growth and ready to meet America’s renewable energy goals. From powering the 97 percent of the nation’s dams that remain unpowered to upgrading our existing facilities, opportunities exist to double hydropower’s contribution to the electricity grid, while strengthening our economy and providing more Americans access to clean, low-cost electricity.”

“GEA applauds the APEC goal of doubling renewable power,” added Karl Gawell, executive director, Geothermal Energy Association. “New geothermal power development underway in the U.S. and nearly all of the APEC countries will provide more than electricity, building thousands of megawatts of new geothermal power will spur economic growth, create new jobs and ensure environmental health for future generations.”

The highlight of the summit was a surprise negotiated emissions deal between the U.S. and China to curb climate change. The deal includes new targets for the U.S. and China to stop emission growth by 2030 and to create momentum around climate talks leading into the global climate conference taking place in Paris in 2015. Continue reading

CanWEA Welcomes Wind Policy

The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is welcoming the initiative that the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Pierre Arcand, has announced to develop a new energy policy in Quebec. The organization has sent a message to Arcand that they are willing and ready to work the the Quebec government, industry and the new wind energy task force to review and strengthen the region’s wind energy policy.

windfacts-banner-superhero“There are many challenges that will need to be overcome in energy,” said Jean-François Nolet, Vice President, Policy and Government Affairs at CanWEA. “We must find a balance between developing the energy sources we need to support economic development, the costs of these projects and protecting the environment, while maintaining strong partnerships with host communities. We are convinced that wind energy can help play an important role in reaching these goals.”

According to CanWEA, the Quebec wind industry employees 5,000 people and has generated $10 billion in investments over the last 10 years. The organization believes that wind energy can and should play a key role in Quebec’s next energy policy that will guide energy decisions for the coming decade.

Nolet added, “Today, Quebec is a leader in energy thanks to the government’s vision, whether during the development of large hydroelectric projects or the very first wind projects. We must continue down this path and remain at the forefront by reaffirming our leadership in this area.”

GSA On Track to Meet Admin’s Renewable Goals

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) says they are on tract to meet President Obama’s 2020 renewable energy goal. The organization has awarded a ten-year competitive power supply contract to MG2 Tribal Energy, a joint venture between the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians and Geronimo Energy. This marks the largest wind energy purchase from a single source in federal contracting history.

The contract will purchase 140 MW of wind energy from the Walnut Ridge Wind Farm, in development in northwest Illinois. When complete, the wind farm will add 500,000 MW hours of electricity to the grid each year.

MG2 Tribal Energy“As part of GSA’s commitment to greening the federal government, we are working to ensure that we don’t just use energy but create it as well,” said Dan Tangherlini, GSA Administrator. “This project will add to the power grid in a sustainable way and ensure that we become less dependent on fossil fuels. We are proud of our progress toward meeting the federal government’s renewable energy goals, and look forward to taking advantage of future opportunities that will help us with this effort.”

Mesa Grande Band Chairman and MG2 President Mark Romero added, “The Mesa Grande Band is excited about our partnership with both Geronimo Energy and the GSA. This contract represents an important step forward in the history of the Mesa Grande Band because it is entirely consistent with our historic concern for Mother Earth and the continued availability of clean water, land, and air for future generations. Few other economic development opportunities enable us to remain so true to our cultural and spiritual values.”

Canadian Youth Speak Out For Wind

The winners of the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s (CanWEA) Power of Wind contest were announced during the association’s 30th Annual Conference and Exhibition in Montreal, Quebec this week. The contest is launched each year during Global Wind Day (June 15, 2015) to bring positive attention to the benefits of wind energy and its growing contribution in Canada.

Power of Wind submissionEach year, CanWEA awards several bursary prizes to students entering or in post-secondary education. This year, students were invited to submit multimedia and written entries on why they believe wind energy is important to Canada’s energy future.

“CanWEA’s Power of Wind contest presents an opportunity for students to share their unique perspective on energy. This year, we reviewed over 200 captivating multi-media entries,” said CanWEA President, Robert Hornung. “The submissions revealed a high awareness among students of wind energy’s role in powering new economic and environmental opportunities, and the ways that Canada can demonstrate global leadership in the development of renewable energy.”

And this year’s Power of Wind contest winners are…

  • Best English language blog: Audrey Cheung, University of Calgary
  • Best French language blog: Pierre-Luc Blain, University of British Columbia
  • Best multimedia entry: Maya Olechnowicz, University of Western Ontario
  • Most creative submission: Long Ting (Tina) Chan, University of Waterloo

Click here to read the winners’ blogs.

ONR Expands Green Reach in Asia-Pacific

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is expanding its work in Asia-Pacific’s renewable energy sector. The announcement was made during National Energy Action Month where the Navy is promoting energy efficiency and conservation by participating in and hosting events around the world. The announcement comes after ONR’s work with the Chiang Mai World Green City that was established two years ago at Chiang Mai Rajabhat University with support from ONR. It uses solar cells, batteries for energy storage and a direct-current (DC) microgrid to power more than 20 buildings over 200 acres, including residences, offices, businesses and a vegetable farm.

Navy National Energy Month poster“Each new partnership we establish moves the United States and our allies closer to energy independence,” said Dr. Richard Carlin, head of ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department. “This system is unique in that it uses direct current to power an entire community. While this concept is perfect for isolated and remote communities, it also could be used in the future on naval installations and even ships at sea to bring power to our Sailors and Marines wherever they are.”

Scientists in Thailand plan to establish another smart grid-powered village at the University of Phayao and introduce sustainable technologies to military barracks and other communities throughout the country.

ONR now has turned its attention to Vietnam, where there is an abundance of solar, biomass, wind, geothermal, hydro and other rich renewable energy sources. The U.S.-Vietnam collaboration also will take advantage of investments made in Hawaii, where ONR is sponsoring a study of electrical grids for three naval bases. As part of that initiative, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) and the Applied Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii are working with the Naval Facilities Engineering Command to develop an action plan for the Navy’s energy needs in Hawaii.

“We are expanding our research collaboration to Vietnam to build off the success in Thailand and to support the United States in our pivot to the Asia-Pacific region,” said Dr. Cung Vu, ONR Global associate director for power and energy. “Vietnam’s remote rural, mountainous and island areas will benefit from ONR’s microgrid research, and the Navy will be able to increase its understanding of energy-efficient technologies through another key partnership.”