Wind power show kicks off

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Global Windpower 2011 is taking place this week in Anaheim, California. The event got underway with its traditional keynotes by celebrities, government leaders and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) execs. TV mogul Ted Turner led the way. A big fan of wind, he has started his own venture capital firm to sponsor renewable projects known as Turner Renewable Energy.

 “I’ve never seen anything more clear as the case for wind, solar, and geothermal,” said Turner. “They must be long-term incentives so we can plan intelligently.”


Day One being the biggest keynote day, it was a certainty that others would echo Turner’s call for more subsidy and political action. AWEA CEO Denise Bode highlighted California’s recent passing of a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 33-percent which is to be achieved by 2020.

 “Thirty years ago, the Golden State gave rise to a new wave in America’s sea of electricity generation,” said Bode. “California is once again challenging the nation, leading the charge.”

Next up, the political heavyweights: Congressman Earl Blumenauer called for the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) which is due to expire at the end of 2012.  Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer pushed for U.S. energy independence with wind as a major component in this strategy.

“The nation must tap its own vast resources to develop clean, affordable American wind power,” he said. .

 On a more controversial note, there was much talk about Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) decision to wind power off the grid last week in the Pacific Northwest region, thus breaking contracts with wind generators.

“This is a damaging precedent that will kill investment,” said AWEA Senior Vice President of Public Policy Rob Gramlich.

The BPA cited environmental reasons –preferring to take wind off the grid rather than spill water over its dams and thereby threaten salmon populations. The legal and PR wrangling between AWEA, BPA and the concerned wind generators is reaching fever pitch.

Other news centered upon announcements by wind suppliers. Siemens unveiled plans for wind service warehousing operations in Woodward, Oklahoma. Construction of two facilities will begin this month and is expected to be completed by the end of 2011. GE has delivered its first turbines to the world’s largest wind project at the Shepherds Flat site in Oregon where more than 200 GE 2.5 MW wind turbines are going expected to arrive before the end of this year, with the remaining units to be shipped in 2012. Vestas has upgraded its 2 MW GridStreamer turbines to provide higher energy production due to an improved drivetrain, better load management system and a full-scale converter-based power system. Acciona Windpower has enhanced its 3 MW turbine via a 116-meter rotor diameter which is optimized for medium wind speed sites.

(The next blog posting from the show will focus on the views and technologies of turbine manufacturers)