Wind Production Tax Credit Part of House Hearing

USCapitolAs lawmakers battle over the budget and Obamacare, the wind production tax credit could also come under fire. This blog posting from the political paper, The Hill, says House Republicans today are taking aim at the credits at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing.

“With the federal government currently at a standstill over budget negotiations, it is imperative for Congress to continue to root out and address wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars,” states an advisory for the Wednesday hearing on the production tax credit.

An IRS official is scheduled to speak, as well as those favoring and opposing the tax incentive. The hearing starts at 9:30 am EDT in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

We’ll follow the develops and let you know if anything comes out of this hearing.

West Coast Offshore Wind Energy Site Evaluated

PrinciplePowerThe federal government is considering leasing an area off the shore of Oregon for a floating wind energy project. This story from North American Windpower says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will determine the competitive interest in leasing the area for the proposed Principle Power Inc. project.

According to BOEM, Principle Power’s proposed WindFloat Pacific Project, which would be located about 16 nautical miles west of Coos Bay, Ore., in about 1,200 feet of water, is designed to generate 30 MW of electricity from five “WindFloat” units, each equipped with a 6 MW offshore wind turbine. The proposed lease area covers about 15 square miles.

BOEM says it must assess whether there are other parties interested in developing commercial wind facilities in the same area in order to determine whether it is appropriate to issue a lease on a non-competitive basis, or whether a competitive process is required.

In addition to inquiring about competitive interest, BOEM is seeking public comment on the proposal, its potential environmental consequences, and the use of the area in which the proposed project would be located.

Last year, Principle Power received a U.S. Department of Energy grant to explore offshore wind projects in state and federal waters.

Over the next year, BOEM expects to hold more competitive auctions for wind energy leases off the shores of Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Boston Wind Company to Start Solar Project

firstwindA Boston-based wind company is breaking ground on a series of solar projects in Massachusetts. First Wind announced the beginning of the 17-megawatt total projects in Warren and Millbury, the first renewable energy projects in its home state and its first solar development.

“It is exciting that we are able to develop and build our very first solar projects in our home state of Massachusetts,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “Massachusetts has led the way on renewable energy issues, and we are excited that we are able to add some clean energy projects right here in the Commonwealth, which will further enhance our growing portfolio of projects and customers in the Northeast. We are also very pleased to partner with UMass to deliver clean, renewable solar power to their campuses while delivering genuine economic benefits to the host communities and cost-competitive clean, renewable energy for years to come.”

Most of the power generated from will be delivered to the Lowell and Medical Center campuses of the University of Massachusetts (UMass) through a long-term deal. Power production is expected to start next June.

Wisconsin Wind Farm Gets Commission Green Light

HighlandwindA Wisconsin wind farm gets the approval to move forward after the developer convinces regulators it can reduce noise levels. This article from says the 44-turbine, 102.5MW Highland Wind Farm in St. Croix, being developed by Emerging Energies, got a 2-to-1 vote in its favor from the state’s Public Utilities Commission.

St.-Croix-mapThe Hubertus-based developer fine-tuned operating plans to comply with noise restrictions after the board initially rejected the project in February. Emerging Energies said it would curtail some turbines at night.

“Commissioner Montgomery set high standards for us to meet and gave us another chance to prove that we were able to comply with the state’s noise standard for wind turbines,” said Emerging Energies.

The commission also doubled the number of sound monitors that would measure compliance and increased sound monitoring to four times a year.

Siemens and Nordex turbines are being considered for the $250m project. When finished, Highland will connect to Xcel Energy’s 161kV transmission line.

Google Purchases More Wind Power in Texas

googlewindSearch engine giant Google has increased the amount of wind energy it will use to offset power used in its operations. On the company’s green blog, Google is touting a purchase of 240 MW from the Happy Hereford wind farm outside of Amarillo, Texas.

This agreement represents our fifth long-term agreement and our largest commitment yet; we’ve now contracted for more than 570 MW of wind energy, which is enough energy to power approximately 170,000 U.S. households.

The Happy Hereford wind farm, which is expected to start producing energy in late 2014, is being developed by Chermac Energy, a small, Native American-owned company based in Oklahoma. The wind farm will provide energy to the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), the regional grid that serves our Mayes County, Okla. data center.

The structure of this agreement is similar to our earlier commitments in Iowa and Oklahoma. Due to the current structure of the market, we can’t consume the renewable energy produced by the wind farm directly, but the impact on our overall carbon footprint and the amount of renewable energy on the grid is the same as if we could consume it. After purchasing the renewable energy, we’ll retire the renewable energy credits (RECs) and sell the energy itself to the wholesale market. We’ll apply any additional RECs produced under this agreement to reduce our carbon footprint elsewhere.

Google says this is just one way it’s trying to make renewable energy available to its data centers and the communities they are in, pointing to other wind agreements in Scandinavia, North Carolina and Oklahoma as examples of that.

World’s Largest Community Wind Farm to be in Texas

triglobalturbine1Everything’s bigger in Texas, right? Well, that certainly seems to be the case for a massive wind farm slated for West Texas. Tri Global Energy, LLC has created Hale Community Energy, LLC (HCE) to be the managing company for a wind farm exceeding 122,000 acres owned by more than 340 landowners and having more than 450 shareholders.

As the world’s largest community-sponsored wind farm, it has the potential to produce 1,100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy with approximately 500-650 turbines, to be developed in five phases of construction.

“The actual construction of the wind turbines will bring a lot of temporary jobs into the area,” Curtis King, Tri Global’s Senior Vice President of Investor Relations said. “And once we get the wind farm up and running, there will be at least 100 permanent jobs. These will be high-paying jobs. It’s not something that will be around for just 10 years — wind farms will be a permanent fixture that will go on for several generations.”

The first 200 MW phase is expected to be up and running in late 2015, with the entire project to be operational by mid 2018.

HCE will also interconnect two national grids within one project area, a key, according to company officials, to making sure the wind energy gets to the urban areas that need it.

Siemens Unveils Plan for Wind Training Facility

Siemens has unveiled plans to build a new, state-of-the-art wind service training facility in Orlando, Florida. The facility will offer comprehensive skills and safety training to its service technicians and engineers worldwide. The 40,000 square foot center will be located close to the the company’s global Energy Service Division in Orlando and is expected to be one of the most advanced wind training facilities in the world.

“We are pleased that Florida remains a solid business base for Siemens as indicated by its choice of our state over other U.S. states for this innovative, high-tech training center,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Siemens announces plans for new, state-of-the-art wind service training center in U.S.Siemens’ initial investment will be approximately $7 million and the company plans to create 50 new full-time jobs and host approximately 2,400 trainees annually from the U.S. and the Americas. The training center, which is being built based on LEED Gold green-building standards, is scheduled to begin operations by this summer.

“As wind energy has become a mainstream source of power generation, the continued reliable and competitive performance of renewable energy is critically important to meeting the nation’s future energy demand,” said Randy Zwirn, CEO of Siemens Energy, Inc. and CEO of Siemens Energy’s global Service Division. “As an industry leader in both onshore and offshore wind, Siemens is poised to meet that demand and this new, advanced training facility in the U.S. will help ensure that our wind service technicians receive the highest standard of technical and safety training.”

The wind training center will provide technical and health and safety training for Siemens’ wind power service technicians. The central feature of the new training center will be two full-size Siemens nacelles upon which wind service technicians will be trained to perform maintenance based on Siemens specifications. In addition, two 32-foot high climbing towers, ladder structures, electrical and hydraulic modules, and a maintenance crane will make training, safety and rescue simulations possible under realistic conditions.

European Wind Industry Unites for Growth

olico wind in SpainCEOs of 13 national wind energy associations from across Europe recently met in Spain to put out a united call for a binding 2030 renewable energy target. Binding EU targets for renewables have driven the wind energy sector to become a mainstream energy technology.

“By giving investors certainty, a compulsory 2030 renewables target will allow the wind energy sector to continue to grow and provide green jobs and revenue at the lowest cost for Europe,” Thomas Becker, CEO of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), which set up the meeting in Madrid. EWEA, together with Luis Polo, CEO of the Spanish Wind Energy Association are driving the wind energy sector’s work on 2030 targets.

The CEOs also shared their worries about the drastic changes to the framework for wind energy going on in Spain which may put at risk thousands of jobs and Spain’s achievement of the 2020 target, and agreed the importance of both 2020 and 2030 targets in helping restore confidence in Europe.

The European Commission is due to make proposals on 2030 energy and climate policy by the end of the year.

Natural Power Expands Operations

Natural Power The Green HouseRt Hon Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, recently opened Natural Power’s newly expanded ControlCentre at their global headquarters, The Green House, located in the foothills of Rhinns of Kells in rural Dumfries and Galloway.

The company’s NP/ControlCentre (previously known as WindCentre) is a 24/7/365 operational control room, providing site management services round the clock for a range of renewable sectors including onshore and offshore wind, biomass and solar PV projects. Manned by experienced engineers, the 24 hour control room service is facilitated by a software solution for health & safety management, work order recording and access control – all in line with industry best practice, such as the RenewableUK Wind Turbine Safety Rules.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said during the event, “It’s great to see first-hand the work carried out at Natural Power’s ControlCentre. This shows the vital role renewables play in our energy mix and their contribution to our energy security. The Centre has already helped over 100 clients improve the efficiency of their wind turbines, increasing the amount of renewable electricity provided to the grid.

20130905-NaturalPower-5928The company’s Asset Management team currently manages 139 wind farms globally, including 14 sites in Ireland, representing 1,360 turbines. The company is also breaking into the U.S. market and is already providing services to a number of operational wind farms. This represents operational management of 37 percent and 20 percent of the UK’s and Irish installed onshore capacity respectively.

Commenting on the company’s acheivements, Natural Power’s Director of Asset Management, Andy Howie, said: “It is a great achievement to be in a position to double the size of NP /ControlCentre, and to know it has become the heart of one third of all operational sites in the UK.  As the sector continues to grow our focus remains on achieving the highest safety standards on site for all. We are extremely proud, at Natural Power, to be chosen as the No. 1 provider of Asset Management services in the UK.”

Davey also noted that is he “delighted” that Natural Power has chosen to expand the Centre’s services to solar and bioenergy sectors in the UK. “The UK has some of the best renewables in Europe,” said Davey, “and if we are to meet our carbon reduction and renewable targets, it is vital that we make the most of this potential.”

“I wish Natural Power every success with their endeavours,” added Davey.

Airborne Wind Energy Systems See Advancements

According to Airborne Wind Energy Labs, a major problem stalling the advance of renewable energy is that electrical energy cannot be stored economically. However, the company says that an airborne wind conversion system, directly charging thermal energy storage, could become the first economical energy storage technology not dependent on specific and rare location features.

gI_58601_Device_2_smallerThe proposed system converts wind energy directly into heat, which is stored in a low cost thermal storage, then used to drive a steam turbine and produce electricity in the time of elevated demand or reduced supply. The system does not require rare or expensive materials, components or construction techniques.

Existing renewable energy approaches also do not address the need in vehicle fuels says Airborne Wind Energy Systems. This need is not satisfied by battery powered electric vehicles because of high cost and low durability of the batteries. Synthetic fuels can be manufactured from natural gas using airborne wind energy, at lower cost than by traditional methods and without excessive gas use.

These technologies are currently being discussed, along with others at the Airborne Wind Energy Conference currently taking place in Berlin. This year attendees from more than 24 countries are participating in the conference.

Army Awards Wind Technologies Under MATOC

130919-A-QY194-001The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, working with the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF), has awarded its third round of funding as part of the Multiple Award Task Order Contracts (MATOC) to a 17 wind technology contractors.

The contractors qualified through this process will be able to compete for future wind renewable energy task orders issued under the MATOC by the Army or Department of Defense (DoD). The MATOC leverages the DoD authority to contract up to 30 years under Title 10 USC 2922a.

This MATOC will be used to procure reliable, locally generated, renewable and alternative energy for DoD installations through power purchase agreements (PPA). The $7 billion contract capacity will be expended for PPAs to procure energy during a period of up to 30 years from renewable energy generation systems that are designed, financed, constructed, operated and maintained by contractors using private sector financing.

“Today we awarded the wind technology as part of the $7 billion renewable energy MATOC. We have one remaining technology left to award which is biomass,” said Col. Robert Ruch, commander, U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville. “Awarding these contracts in the four distinct technologies, geothermal, solar, wind, and biomass, will allow us to more quickly award task orders for individual future projects as they are identified. We look forward to working with the EITF and other potential DoD organizations to help implement renewable energy projects.”

Click here for a list of the wind companies award MATOC funds.

Rothes II Wind Farm in Scotland Powers Up

Fred. Olsen Renewables (FOR) has announced that the Rothes II Wind Farm in Scotland has commenced operation. The wind farm has an installed operational capacity of  41.4 MW, equivalent to generating enough electricity to power over 20,500 homes.

Rothe Wind Farm Photo Credit- Kevin MouldThe project is located adjacent to the existing Rothes Wind Farm, 20km south west of Elgin and consists of 18 x Siemens 2.3 MW turbines. The operational site takes FOR’s onshore operational portfolio to 430.5 MW, representing 7 percent of the UK’s total onshore installed wind capacity or 11 percent of Scotland’s onshore installed wind capacity. A further 60MW of wind energy is either under construction or due to shortly enter construction.

FOR’s overall strategy is to participate in projects from an early stage. The company is involved in site selection, planning and construction and aims to operate the projects over their lifetime. For this project, FOR has appointed Natural Power to provide operational services on the site including 24/7 control room services, NP/ControlCentre.

David Brunt, CEO at Fred. Olsen Renewables, said, “We are very pleased to confirm that Rothes II Wind Farm construction has now concluded successfully and the site has entered into operation. Rothes I and Rothes II provide a combined installed capacity of almost 100 MW which alone represent 2.5% of Scotland’s total onshore wind capacity, helping to meet the country’s ambitious renewable energy targets.”

These projects affirm the company’s position as the UK’s leading Independent Renewable Power Producer.

Renewables Top 14% of Electrical Generation

According to the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” renewable energy sources provided 14.20 percent of the country’s net electric generation during the first half of the year (through June 30, 2013). During the same period in 2012, renewables accounted for 13.57 percent of net electrical generation.

iStock_000019619550XSmallIn addition, the report found that non-hydro renewables have more than tripled their output during the past decade. They now account for almost the same share of electrical generation (6.71%) as does conventional hydropower (7.49%). Ten years ago (i.e., calendar year 2003), non-hydro renewables provided only 2.05% of net U.S. electrical generation.

Comparing the first six months of 2013 to the same period in 2012, solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) combined have grown 94.4 percent while wind increased 20.1 percent and geothermal grew by 1.0 percent. Biomass declined by 0.5 percent while hydropower dropped by 2.6 percent. Among the non-hydro renewabes, wind is in the lead, accounting for 4.67 percent of net electrical generation, followed by biomass (1.42%), geothermal (0.43%), and solar (0.19%).

The balance of the nation’s electrical generation mix for the first half of 2013 consisted of coal (39.00% – up by 10.3%), natural gas and other gas (26.46% – down by 13.6%), nuclear power (19.48% – up by 0.2%), and petroleum liquids + coke (0.66% – up by 15.6%). The balance (0.21%) was from other sources and pumped hydro storage.

“Every year for the past decade, non-hydro renewables have increased both their net electrical output as well as their percentage share of the nation’s electricity mix,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Moreover, the annual rate of growth for solar and wind continues in the double digits, setting new records each year.”

Hyrdogenics’ Power-to-Gas Facility Begins Operations

Hydrogenics Corporation has announced that its E.ON inaugurated commercial operations has begun at its Power-to-Gas (P2G) facility in Falkenhagen, Germany. The plant uses wind power and Hydrogenics’ electrolysis equipment to transform water into hydrogen, which is then injected into the existing regional natural gas transmission system. The hydrogen, as part of the natural gas mix, can be used in a variety of applications including space heating, industrial processes, mobility, and power generation. The facility, which has a capacity of two megawatts, produces 360 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour.

E.On and Swissgas PG project“This project makes E.ON one of the first companies to demonstrate that surplus energy can be stored in the gas pipeline system in order to help balance supply against demand,” said Dr. Ingo Luge, CEO of E.ON Deutschland. “This method of energy storage is considered a key technology for the transformation of Germany’s energy system. It will reduce the need to take wind turbines offline when the local grid is congested and will therefore enable us to harness more wind power.”

Swissgas, which represents over 100 local natural gas utilities, is a partner in the project with a 20 percent capital stake and an agreement to purchase a portion of the gas produced. Dr. Heinrich Schwendener, a member of the organization’s Board of Management, said during an inauguration ceremony, “Swissgas’ involvement demonstrates the significant value of Switzerland’s gas infrastructure, which enables us to transport and store regenerative energy across national boundaries.”

The inauguration ceremony was also attended by Dr. Philipp Rosler, Germany’s Economics and Technology Minister; Dr. Christian Ehler, Member of the European Parliament; and Henning Heidemanns; State Secretary in the Ministry of Economics and European Affairs of the Federal State of Brandenburg, along with nearly 200 other guests.

“One of the biggest challenges of transforming Germany’s energy system is finding ways to integrate the increasing share of intermittent, renewable-source energy,” said Minister Rosler. “To ensure that Germany’s power system remains stable and that our economy continues to have the energy it needs, we not only have to rapidly expand energy networks but also require innovative solutions like the P2G unit here in Falkenhagen.”

Daryl Wilson, CEO of Hydrogenics, added, “We are delighted to see this plant now in full commercial use. In April of this year we announced a second Power-to-Gas project with E.ON for the city of Hamburg, which is currently under construction. That facility, containing the world’s largest single mega-watt PEM stack, is expected to be delivered in the spring of 2014. These projects serve as a platform for upcoming Power-to-Gas facilities not only in Europe but around the world.”

Clay County, Iowa Hosting Iowa Wind Day

The Clay County Fair in Clay County, Iowa is hosting an Iowa Wind Energy Day on Sunday September 8, 2013. The Iowa Wind Energy Association along with 14 co-sponsors will provide educational and interactive exhibits for fair-goers to learn about the state’s robust wind industry.

Wind turbine near Galva IowaIowa was the first state in the U.S. to exceed 24 percent of all electrical generation from wind. In addition the state is first in the number of wind related jobs and wind manufacturing businesses, and third in installed capacity. Landowners in Iowa are paid an annual lease payment for each turbine on their land and receive a combined $16 million annually. Property tax assessed value in counties with wind turbines has increased by almost $3 billion dollars and provides increased tax revenues to county and school district budgets annually.

In the next four-to-five years, recently announced wind farm developments and transmission projects will create an estimated $10 billion dollars in capital investment in Northwest Iowa. The wind farm projects will include nearly 2,500 additional wind turbines within 100 miles of O’Brien County. Landowner lease payments for these turbines will range between $6,000 – $10,000 per turbine, per year for 20 years or more. This is approximately $20 million dollars that will be paid to landowners each year. Within six years these turbines will add an estimated $2.25 billion in property tax assessed value in Northwest Iowa, and provide an estimated 400 – 500 new jobs with an annual estimated payroll of $20 million.

The wind energy booth will be located just south of the events center and between the midway and grandstand. Visitors can sign up for door prizes, receive free wind energy promotional items, view an actual turbine operation, see high voltage protective equipment, talk to wind farm developers, operation and maintenance workers and educators about opportunities in the wind energy industry. Iowa Wind Energy Association staff will also be giving short seminars on topics such as buying a small wind turbine; what to expect if contacted by wind farm developers; and the economic impact of Iowa’s wind energy industry.