October 26 , 2012
Best of times, worst of times: Renewables contribute all of new generation in September
By Carl Levesque
Wind power and renewable energy in general once again made themselves known among the top players on the power generation landscape last month: Wind power and solar contributed every megawatt of new generation that was installed during September, according to a monthly report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But the good news for renewable energy only highlighted wind power’s complicated story of 2012.
The Energy Infrastructure Update for September 2012, produced by FERC’s Office of Energy Projects, reported that a total of 433 MW of new electric generating capacity came online last month, with 300 MW coming from wind projects and 133 from new solar facilities. With over 51,000 MW now installed, wind comprises 4.43 percent of the U.S.’s generation mix, the report showed.
Wind power has long established itself as a conventional energy source, with 35 percent of all new generation capacity coming from the affordable and clean energy source during the last five years.
The September numbers generally track with AWEA’s, which released its third-quarter industry report last week, while the industry celebrated its 50 gigawatt milestone in late summer. The industry is on a red-hot pace, turning in record-setting under-construction numbers and setting the stage to achieve new annual installation milestones in 2012.
That’s the “best of times” side of the story. But a “worst of times” dimension to the industry picture has simultaneously shown to be all too real. Paradoxically, in fact, the big story that is the record-setting project development and construction push has been driven by both healthy and dysfunctional forces. As for the healthy market factors, the cost of wind power is down thanks to constantly improving technology, and utilities are turning to the generation source more than ever to both keep their own costs down and lock in guaranteed, stable prices—a concept unknown on the fossil-fuel side of their portfolios.
And the dysfunctional side? Federal policy uncertainty. The federal Production Tax Credit, wind power’s primary policy driver (all energy sources have them), is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Optimism remains that Congress will get the job done and extend the credit during the lame-duck session after the election—this timing has been seen as the most likely scenario for awhile—but wind power companies can’t bet on that, nor can the financiers that are backing the projects. Project deals are put together with the PTC being part of the equation, and so the players can’t afford to place themselves at the mercy of Congress’s action or inaction.
Unfortunately, the damage is already being done. Companies along the industry supply chain, meanwhile, reflect “the worst of times” side of the Dickensian story. With project development cycles taking 18 months, several factories making components that go into wind turbines have announced layoffs.
Those layoffs represent just the beginning if Congress doesn’t act. A total of 37,000 jobs will be lost if the PTC is not extended.
Through its project numbers and jobs created all along the supply chain, wind power keeps showing it can be—and already is—a key part of America’s energy mix. Now it’s time for Congress to tap wind power’s bipartisan appeal and do its part.
Developers & Owners
NextEra Energy earnings report reflects 2012 red-hot wind industry pace
Reflecting the wind industry’s record-setting pace this year, No. 1 wind power project owner NextEra Energy Resources is working through a “record backlog” of renewable energy projects and is on track to add 1,500 MW of new wind power, the company said in announcing its third-quarter earnings.
During the quarter, NextEra reached an agreement to acquire a 165-MW wind project with a 20-year power purchase agreement that is expected to go into service by the end of the year. In addition, the company entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement for a new 100-MW wind project that is expected to go into service next year and is not contingent on the extension of the federal Production Tax Credit, the company said. Finally, the company received approval from the California Public Utility Commission for its 20-year power purchase agreement for the planned 250-MW McCoy solar project.
"At NextEra Energy Resources, we expect to add approximately 1,500 megawatts of new U.S. wind generation this year as we continue work on a record backlog of contracted renewables projects," said NextEra Energy President and CEO Jim Robo.
NextEra also remains on track to add approximately 600 MW of Canadian wind between 2012 and 2015, and to add approximately 900 MW of contracted solar generation to the portfolio between 2012 and 2016, the company said.
Kansas governor joins EDF Renewable Energy, KCP&L, to dedicate Spearville 3 wind project
EDF Renewable Energy and KCP&L celebrated the commissioning of the Spearville 3 Wind Project with a dedication ceremony this week. The 100.8 MW wind project began delivering electricity into the KCP&L generation portfolio earlier this month.
EDF Renewable Energy, formerly enXco, developed and built the Spearville 3 Wind Project. KCP&L is purchasing the electricity generated at the facility under a 20-year power purchase agreement. The project, consisting of 63 of GE's XLE turbines, generates enough electricity to supply approximately 40,000 average homes with renewable energy, according to the company. EDF Renewable Services, formerly enXco Service Corp., will provide operations and maintenance services. This year enXco, which was acquired by energy giant EDF (Electricité de France) a decade ago, changed its name to align with the parent company brand.
“The creation of new jobs, spurring investment and technological innovation while helping revitalize our rural parts of Kansas are top priorities of my Administration,” said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R). “The Spearville 3 Wind Farm developed by EDF Renewable Energy is an outstanding example of the confluence of these objectives. I also applaud Kansas City Power & Light for its support of the Spearville 3 Wind Project as a way to provide a diverse and affordable power supply to its customers.”
EDF Renewable Energy sells stake in Minn. project to Marubeni Corp.
EDF Renewable Energy also said this week it has signed an agreement with investment company Marubeni Corp. under which a subsidiary of Marubeni will acquire a 50 percent stake in the 205.5-MW Lakefield Wind Project in Jackson County, Minn.
The facility is fully operational and supplies electricity into the Midwest Independent System Operator transmission system under a 20-year power purchase agreement with Indianapolis Power & Light. Lakefield commenced operation in 2011 and consists of 137 GE 1.5-MW wind turbines.
EDF Renewable Services will continue to provide operations and maintenance services. Marubeni will participate in asset management roles, working with EDF Renewable Energy in the administration of the project.
Goldwind USA breaks ground on Montana project
Late last week Goldwind broke ground on its 20-MW project in Montana.
The project, which has been championed by Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), is located in the small community of Shawmut. "We're excited about the opportunity to come here and create some jobs in Montana and build some clean renewable energy in the United States," said Tom Rosenzweig, CEO of Goldwind USA.
The wind farm can supply 5,000 homes with electricity and will create nearly 75 jobs during construction, according to the company.
Project owner Goldwind, a turbine manufacturer, naturally is supplying the turbines. It acquired the project prior to construction from original developer Volkswind USA.
"When somebody builds a project in our state, word spreads,” said Baucus said, as reported in local news outlet kulr8. “People say, 'Gee, well Goldwind likes Montana, maybe we should look at Montana too, there's no question.'"
NY panel offers plan for up to 3,200 MW of new generation, transmission
A panel charged with evaluating ways to improve and upgrade New York's energy infrastructure offered a plan that will add as much as 3,200 MW of electric generation and transmission capacity as well as renewable power generation through public and private investments totaling about $5.7 billion.
The five-member Energy Highway Task Force on Oct. 22 gave New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo a blueprint that includes 13 recommended actions to advance the governor's push to modernize the state's energy system. Cuomo, during his state of the state address in January, outlined an “Energy Highway Initiative” to improve the system.
The task force created the blueprint after reviewing feedback from 85 entities, including the state's investor-owned utilities, private developers and investors. The recommendations call for action throughout the state and would involve stakeholders from the private sector, state agencies and investor-owned utilities, along with the New York Power Authority, Long Island Power Authority and the New York Independent System Operator. The task force suggested that most of the actions begin by the end of 2012 or early 2013.
The recommended actions fall into four categories: expand and strengthen the energy highway; accelerate construction and repair; support clean energy; and drive technological innovation. Among the recommendfations:
- Build $1 billion worth of electric transmission projects totaling more than 1,000 MW of capacity.
- Advance up to $800 million of investments in electric generation, transmission, and distribution to enhance reliability, safety and storm resilience.
- Within the next year, execute new contracts for up to $250 million with renewable energy developers under the renewable portfolio standard to leverage an additional $425 million in private-sector investment while building up to 270 MW, and continue to invest annually with future contract solicitations in new large-scale renewable energy projects.
- Build up to $35 million worth of strategic transmission upgrades to remove a potential impediment to additional renewable energy development in northern New York.
- Perform resource characterization studies for offshore wind development in the Atlantic Ocean.
- Leverage smart-grid programs to advance the long-term goals of the Energy Highway with an investment of $100 million and provide additional support for smart grid technologies through an investment of $80 million focused on demonstration of new technologies in power grid system operations, security and energy storage.
NRG Energy gets lease for offshore Delaware project
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has reached agreement on a lease for commercial wind energy development in federal waters covering 96,430 acres that are located approximately 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau announced.
The agreement marks the first lease completed under Interior’s “Smart from the Start” approach to facilitate environmentally responsible offshore wind development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) by identifying wind energy areas in a coordinated, focused approach with extensive environmental analysis, public review and large-scale planning.
“Delaware has remarkable offshore wind potential, and harnessing this clean, domestic energy resource will create jobs, increase our energy security and strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness,” said Salazar. “The Administration has implemented a true all of the above approach to American energy, with renewable energy from sources like wind and solar doubling since the President took office, while at the same time domestic oil and gas production has increased each year, with domestic oil production currently higher than any time in almost a decade and domestic natural gas production at its highest level ever.”
The lease grants NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC the exclusive right to submit one or more plans to BOEM to conduct activities in support of wind energy development in the lease area. The company may submit a plan to conduct site assessment activities, such as the installation of a meteorological tower or meteorological buoy, as well as submit a construction and operations Plan (COP) to propose construction of the actual wind facility and cabling to shore.
In its original project nomination, NRG Bluewater proposed a 450-MW project off the coast of Delaware, although ther project scope could change.
The project’s path to completion, however, has been complicated by business factors. Late last year NRG cancelled the power purchase agreement with Delmarva Power for the project’s electricity. NRG decided not to continue with its offshore wind power business, which it acquired in 2008 with the purchase of Bluewater Wind, when financing for the project became an issue. Still, the lease will make the project all the more appealing to potential partners or buyers, said spokesperson David Gaier, as reported in Renewable Energy World.
Boulder Wind Power next-gen 3.0-MW generator clears testing
Boulder Wind Power’s new generator technology has passed proof-of-concept testing on its 3.0-MW design, said CEO Andris Cukurs.
Boulder Wind Power (BWP) is developing a permanent magnet, direct-drive generator using a unique axial flux, air-core architecture that the company says increases efficiency and reliability. Cukurs, the former Suzlon Wind Power CEO who joined Boulder Wind Power to spearhead that company’s new-technology focus, said BWP’s technology can provide wind turbine manufacturers with design advantages that can help them compete in the global wind market.
“Having proven the fundamental design approach for our generator and power converter and validated our design tools, we are now in the process of designing units to be incorporated in our clients’ multi-megawatt wind turbine designs for prototype testing,” said Cukurs.
BWP began testing on its 3.0-MW proof-of-concept generator in March. The final test results have shown that the axial-flux air core design works as efficiently and reliably as predicted, the company said. Brian Sullivan, principal electromagnetics engineer at BWP, added, “The results obtained from BWP’s proof-of-concept testing have shown a high degree of correlation with our analyses, demonstrating the accuracy of our advanced 3-D electromagnetics modeling methods. As an example, our predictive models for open circuit voltage were within 2 percent of measured data throughout the operating range.”
Fall Symposium: A look at the enticing location
The AWEA Wind Energy Fall Symposium is famous for its casual and enjoyable atmosphere, one that is conducive to both engaging in high-level discussion and building relationships with leading members of the industry. So, with that in mind, here’s a little about this year’s location...
The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa was designed to be an authentic representation of the Gila River Indian Community's heritage and culture. The architecture, design, art and legends of the Pima and Maricopa tribes are celebrated in every detail imaginable, indoors and out. Once there, enjoy panoramic views, including the Sierra Estrella and South Mountain Ranges, the Gila River and two championship golf courses. You may even see the wild horses roaming across the desert. Experience a truly unique location with a multitude of on-site activities in a spectacular setting.
Get more info.
The source for wind energy industry talent…
Need skilled wind professionals? Find them on AWEA’s CareersinWind.com. Dedicated to connecting wind energy companies with experienced workers who want to advance the industry, CareersInWind.com is the only job board that directly supports and promotes the wind industry. Package: 30-Day Job Posting + Energy Job Board—this product bundle includes a single job posting on CareersInWind.com and secondary exposure for your job posting on 16+ energy partner sites. http://www.CareersInWind.com
Volume 29, Issue 1506
|Wind Energy Weekly is a publication of the American Wind Energy Association and a service to its Members.
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