Friday, September 29, 2006

Suzlon Now Supplies John Deere Wind Energy with 530 MW

Suzlon Now Supplies John Deere Wind Energy with 530 MW
September 25, 2006

Pune, India [] A new order from John Deere Wind Energy (JDWE) nearly doubles its wind turbine capacity with another 247 megawatts (MW) from Suzlon Energy A/S of Denmark (SEAS), international arm of Suzlon Energy Limited. JDWE's Suzlon wind turbine portfolio now exceeds 530 MW in capacity. 30 units of the S64-1.25 MW turbine and 100 units of the S88-2.1 MW turbine will be delivered throughout 2007.

"John Deere is relatively new to the industry, but has already made great strides and continues to extend its business model."

-- Per Hornung Pedersen, SEAS, CEO "We are confident our investment in the U.S., along with our customer-focused approach, has contributed to repeat orders," said Tulsi R. Tanti, Chairman & Managing Director, Suzlon Energy Limited.

Suzlon's relationship with JDWE began in 2003 with its investment in several Minnesota wind power projects, but quickly expanded to Texas and recently Missouri. JDWE's latest order builds upon previous orders, including an order for 238 MW of capacity placed in early 2006.

"We view this latest agreement as a reaffirmation of our belief and investment in the U.S. market, and our manufacturing strategy," said Andris Cukurs, CEO of Suzlon Wind Energy Corporation (SWECO). "John Deere's commitment to purchasing these turbines further confirms our long-term strategy to focus on partnerships and production capabilities."

Commenting on the order, David Drescher, VP of JDWE, said, "John Deere Wind Energy is very pleased that we came to terms with Suzlon and have procured turbines for numerous projects throughout the U.S."

"John Deere is relatively new to the industry, but has already made great strides and continues to extend its business model," added Per Hornung Pedersen, CEO of SEAS.

ACCIONA, Enbridge and Suncor Open 30 MW Wind Power Project

ACCIONA, Enbridge and Suncor Open 30 MW Wind Power Project
September 28, 2006

Taber, Alberta [] Acciona Wind Energy Canada Inc., Enbridge Inc., and Suncor Energy Products Inc. announced the opening of the 30-megawatt (MW) Chin Chute Wind Power Project, which consists of 20 1.5-MW turbines. Power is expected to be available to the grid in late October 2006.

"We are honored to have the opportunity to expand zero- emission electricity generation through renewable energies, and to cooperate with the authorities and businesses in expanding initiatives that address climate change."

-- Peter Duprey, Acciona Energy North America, CEO The companies are currently focusing on safely commissioning each turbine and completing the 20 kilometer (km) transmission line. Once in full service, Acciona will operate the CDN$60 million wind farm, located 20 km southwest of Taber.

"The opening of the Chin Chute Wind Power Project increases and consolidates Acciona's presence in Canada, where we already have a wind farm in operation in Alberta," said Peter Duprey, CEO of Acciona Energy North America.

"We are honored to have the opportunity to expand zero-emission electricity generation through renewable energies, and to cooperate with the authorities and businesses in expanding initiatives that address climate change," said Duprey.

Chuck Szmurlo, President of Enbridge Wind Power, said, "Developing Chin Chute and our other wind power projects is consistent with our commitment to sound environmental stewardship."

Acciona, Enbridge and Suncor also own the 30-MW Magrath Wind Power Project in southern Alberta, which was commissioned in 2004 and is now operated by Acciona. Enbridge and Suncor also own the 11-MW SunBridge project near Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, which Enbridge operates.

The companies expect to receive funding from the Canadian government's Wind Power Production Incentive, which supports wind power development in Canada.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Floating Ocean Windmills Designed to Generate More Power

Floating Ocean Windmills Designed to Generate More Power
Ker Than LiveScience Staff Writer

Windmills that would float hundreds of miles out at sea could one day help satisfy our energy needs without being eyesores from land, scientists said today.

Offshore wind turbines are not new, but they typically stand on towers that have to be driven deep into the ocean floor. This arrangement only works in water depths of about 50 feet or less—close enough to shore that they are still visible.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have designed a wind turbine that can be attached to a floating platform. Long steel cables would tether the corners of the floating platform to a concrete-block or other mooring system on the ocean floor, like a high-tech ship anchor. The setup is called a "tension leg platform," or TLP, and would be cheaper than fixed towers.

"You don't pay anything to be buoyant," said Paul Sclavounos, an MIT professor of mechanical engineering and naval architecture who was involved in the design.

The floating platforms to sway side to side but not bob up and down. Computer simulations suggest that even during hurricanes, the platforms would shift by only about three to six feet and that the bottom of the turbine blades would revolve well above the peak of even the highest wave. Dampers similar to those used to steady skyscrapers during high winds and earthquakes could be used to further reduce sideways motion, the researchers say.

Like the offshore windmills currently in use, the TLP's would use undersea cables to shuttle the electricity to land.

The researchers estimate their floater-mounted turbines could work in water depths ranging from about 100 to 650 feet. This means that in the northeastern United States, they could be placed about 30 to 100 miles out at sea. Because winds are stronger farther offshore, the floating windmills could also generate more energy—5.0 megawatts (MW), compared to 1.5 MW for onshore units and 3.5 MW for conventional offshore setups.

To save money, assembly of the TLP's could be done onshore—probably at a shipyard—and towed out to sea by a tugboat, the researchers say.

Sclavounos estimates that building and installing the TLP's should cost a third of what it costs to install current offshore tower windmills. Another advantage of using floating platforms is that the windmills could be moved around. If a company with 400 wind turbines in Boston needs more power in New York City, it can unhook some of their windmills and tow them south.

The researchers plan to install a half-scale prototype of their invention south of Cape Cod.

"We'd have a little unit sitting out there to show that this thing can float and behave the way we're saying it will," Sclavounos said.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Giant wind farm gets permit from BLM

Idaho's Economic Answer: Blowin' In the Wind
Giant wind farm gets permit from BLM

Boise-based Windland, Inc. working in partnership with Shell Wind Energy recently completed a four-year permitting process with the Bureau of Land Management to OK a massive wind turbine power project on BLM land in the Cotterel Mountains near Albion, Idaho. Once completed, the Cotterel Wind Power Project will comprise 98, 300-foot-tall towers equipped with swirling white propellers stretching along 14 miles of ridgeline. Cotterel will provide enough energy to power 50,000 homes, roughly the number of homes in Twin Falls and Jerome and Gooding counties combined. If completed, the project will be the largest wind farm built on federal lands in the last 25 years.

Mike Heckler of Windland, Inc. says he is "very pleased" with the completion of the BLM review. Before construction begins on the project, Windland faces the task of acquiring a power purchase agreement from one of three utility companies in the region; Idaho Power, Altavista, or Rocky Mountain Power.

"All three have expressed an interest in adding wind generation to their energy portfolios," says Heckler, who attributes the renewed interest in wind power to a recent increase in the cost of natural gas and rapid technological advances in wind turbine technology. According to Heckler, the huge and powerful 1.5 to 3.0 megawatt wind turbines planned for Cotterel, each capable of generating enough power for 500 homes, have only been available in the last six years.

Gerald Fleischman of the Idaho Energy Division counts 42 wind farm projects in various stages of development around the state with a combined potential output of 1,500-2,000 megawatts when completed.

"Many of these are on private lands and are in the 10-20 megawatt range. Most of them keep a pretty low profile," Fleischman says.

The BLM seems eager to spread word of Cotterel's permit, perhaps because it will help meet the goal set by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. That document calls on the secretary of the Interior to seek approval of projects on federal lands which generate 10,000 megawatts of energy from non-hydro-powered renewable sources, in the next nine years. The BLM estimates 3,200 megawatts of wind power are available in the nine Western states. Idaho ranks 13th in its potential for wind energy.

But despite the current interest in wind energy, Idaho Power's supply of energy comes primarily from hydropower, followed closely by natural gas and coal-fired power plant sources, according to Dennis Lopez.

Idaho Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett organized opposition last year to Sempra Energy's proposed coal-fired power plant, which would have provided 600 megawatts of power, one-third of Cotterel's capacity.

"We have enough wind to supply our new energy needs in Idaho," says Stennett. "I am hoping that Idaho will pursue a renewable energy portfolio, including wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. If utilities would consider our hydropower as a solid source of base-load capacity, we certainly would not have to rely on coal in the future."

Doing so, he adds, would require a quantum leap in thinking by the utilities companies. Wind power, Stennett admits, has a huge up-front cost, "but you don't have to wonder about the price of coal and oil 20 years down the road."

"These projects are also great for providing a tax base and some rural economic development," Stennett says.

Cotterel is expected to generate up to $12.5 million in local sales tax revenue once operations are fully underway. According to a BLM report, Cassia County could also benefit from property taxes on the project's $197 million in property improvements.

Iowa Will Consider Building 40,000-Acre Wind-Energy Farm

Iowa Will Consider Building 40,000-Acre Wind-Energy Farm
BY Associated Press
September 1, 2006

Northern Iowa could have one of the nation's largest wind farms by Iowa Winds LLC wants to build a 200- to 300-megawatt farm covering about 40,000 acres in Franklin County.

A county zoning board will consider approving permits for the $200 million project next month.

"It's something new and renewable," a spokeswoman for the Iowa Falls-based company, Amber Schwarck, said. "It's great for national security, so we can start depending on ourselves and the wind."

Iowa ranks third in the nation in wind energy behind Texas and California, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The Franklin County Wind Farm would help Iowa keep pace with those states and create between 30 and 40 technical jobs maintaining turbines, Ms. Schwarck said. A pay scale was unavailable.

Company officials said the farm could be the nation's largest — depending on the permits and the county's power grid infrastructure. The project would be built near Bradford and involve 193 landowners in the townships of Grant, Hamilton, Ingham, Lee, Morgan, Oakland, and Reeves.

If the county approves the project, construction would start next spring and take about a year, Franklin County Supervisor Michael Nolte said

FAA gives go-ahead to three Minnesota wind projects

FAA gives go-ahead to three Minnesota wind projects
Posted 9/14/2006 7:56 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has given the go-ahead to three Minnesota wind power projects, after concluding that they don't interfere with military radar.
The approvals were announced Thursday by Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican who urged the FAA to approve the projects. The FAA confirmed the projects had been given the go-ahead.

More than a dozen wind developers in the Midwest had been told earlier this year that their projects might not get safety permits because of the potential impact on military radar.

The three Minnesota projects that have been approved are: PPM Energy, enXco Energy and Wind Energy Developers.

Jan Johnson, a spokeswoman for PPM Energy, said the company got a determination of "no hazard" from the FAA a couple of weeks ago. That will pave the way for construction to begin this year on a 150-megawatt project in Lincoln County in Minnesota, and Brookings County, South Dakota, she said.

Johnson said that the project would provide enough energy to power about 45,000 homes a year.

Officials with enXco Energy and Wind Energy Developers did not return telephone messages left Thursday.

The enXco project would be built near Chandler. Spokespeople for the FAA and Coleman's office weren't immediately sure where the Wind Energy Developers project is located. The company's website and state and local government records indicate the company is developing projects in both Cottonwood and Murray counties.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars in wind development, much-needed jobs in southwestern Minnesota, and abundant clean, renewable energy can now become a reality thanks to the FAA clearing the way for three Minnesota wind projects," Coleman said in a statement.

FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere confirmed the three had been given clearance.

"There were some issues with those projects, but we worked very closely with the applicants to mitigate any safety factors so that they could go ahead with their projects," said Spitaliere, who did not have details on the specifics of the mitigation.

The American Wind Energy Association, a Washington trade group, ranks Minnesota fourth in the nation in the amount of wind energy installed.

Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center Completes 662 MW

Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center Completes 662 MW
September 14, 2006

Juno Beach, Florida [] FPL Energy completed 662 megawatts (MW) of the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas in the end of August. When the last phase of the project is complete later this month, the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center will have a total capacity of 735 MW, making it the largest wind farm in the U.S.

"Because of the strong support we have received in Texas, this year alone we have invested more than $1 billion to expand our wind business in the state and bring the benefits of this clean, renewable energy source to tens of thousands of Texans."

-- Jim Robo, FPL Energy, president The Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center is comprised of 291 GE 1.5 MW wind turbines and 130 Siemens 2.3 MW wind turbines spread over nearly 47,000 acres in Taylor and Nolan County, Texas.

The first phase of the project consisting of 213 MW was completed in late 2005; phase two consisting of 223.5 MW was completed in the second quarter of 2006; and phase three consisting of 299 MW, of which 225 MW are already operational, is expected to be completed by the end of September. Once Horse Hollow is complete, FPL Energy will operate more than 1,600 MW of wind in Texas alone.

"Projects like Horse Hollow are possible because of the pro-business environment that exists in Texas today as well as tremendous support from the local community," said Jim Robo, president of FPL Energy. "Because of the strong support we have received in Texas, this year alone we have invested more than $1 billion to expand our wind business in the state and bring the benefits of this clean, renewable energy source to tens of thousands of Texans."

FPL Energy, through its subsidiaries, operates 47 wind farms in the U.S. with a gross capacity of 4,002 MW. Since July 2005 FPL Energy has added 880 MW of new wind and expects more than 220 MW to reach commercial operation by the end of the year. FPL Energy plans to add at least 1,500 MW to its portfolio, excluding acquisitions, over the course of the 2006/2007 period.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

U.S. DOE Funds Research on Modular Technology for Large Wind Turbines

U.S. DOE Funds Research on Modular Technology for Large Wind Turbines
September 12, 2006

Waitsfield, Vermont [] Development of 5- to 8-megawatt wind turbines by Northern Power is moving forward thanks to a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

"Over the last several years, our wind experts have focused on developing large-scale, direct-drive wind turbine generator and power converter systems to address the cost, utility interconnection and equipment implementation issues that are prominent in the multi- megawatt wind market today."

-- Darren Jamison, Northern Power, president The Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant will allow the company, a subsidiary of Distributed Energy Systems Corp., to continue development of key modular construction approaches necessary to build the turbines.

With blade lengths of 60 meters or greater and tower heads often weighing more than 450 tons, shipping, installing and maintaining larger turbines is a challenge.

Northern Power's Phase 2 contract with the DOE covers manufacturing and assembly for permanent magnet generators and power converters, to improve the viability of large-scale wind power both on- and offshore. The project's emphasis on modular designs is intended to permit easier subassembly transportation, less weight per component, partial power capabilities and more flexibility in providing onsite service.

"Over the last several years, our wind experts have focused on developing large-scale, direct-drive wind turbine generator and power converter systems," said Darren Jamison, Northern Power's president, "to address the cost, utility interconnection and equipment implementation issues that are prominent in the multi-megawatt wind market today."

The first phase of the competitive, three-phase SBIR program is the startup phase, during which exploration is funded based on the technical merit or feasibility of a technology. Phase II grants enable development of the technology and evaluation of its commercial potential, and Phase III moves the product from the laboratory into the marketplace.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Wind's Economic Value

Wind's Economic Value

September 11, 2006

Xcel Energy's experience with wind energy is whipping up support for alternative fuels. A new study says that energy consumers in Colorado will save more than $251 million over the next 20 years because of the utility's current fleet of wind plants.
Ken Silverstein
EnergyBiz Insider

By today's standards, wind is competitive with other forms of generation. But, even more compelling is the fact that its costs are more stable than natural gas. But if wind is to reach its full potential -- the U.S. Department of Energy has its eyes on 20 percent of the nation's generation mix in a couple decades -- then some critical barriers must be overcome. And those primarily include the extension of transmission lines into remote areas where wind resources are plentiful.

"Most utilities enter into a fixed and known price for wind or other renewables," says Ryan Wiser, a researcher and analyst at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Wind contracts are offered at known prices that may escalate with inflation. Conversely, most of the natural gas generation is indexed to the price of natural gas. And that imposes some risk to utilities and their rate payers."

Wiser, who has written extensively about wind as a hedging tool for utilities, goes on to add that while coal is relatively cheap at 5 cents per kilowatt hour, it may become subject to carbon caps that would increase its overall price. Natural gas, by comparison, is now about 6-8 cents a kilowatt hour, although it has sold for substantially more. Meanwhile wind energy is 4-7 cents per kilowatt hour.

Wind's predictability is a selling point. While the fastest growing fuel form is natural gas, wind is the second largest source for new power generation in the country for two years running, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. There are now 10,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, representing about 0.6 percent of the nation's generation mix.

In Xcel's case, the savings comes from operating wind plants instead of using natural gas. Beyond the economic value, the study released by Interwest Energy Alliance in Denver, says that by adding wind generation to its option, carbon dioxide emissions tied to global warming would be cut by 14.7 million tons.

"Wind energy is providing new electricity supplies that work for our country's economy, environment, and energy security," says Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association. "With its current performance, wind energy is demonstrating that it could rapidly become an important part of the nation's power portfolio."

The Potential

Swisher adds that wind's growth can also be attributed to the renewal of the production tax credit, a federal incentive extended in the Energy Policy Act signed a year ago by President Bush. Previously, the credit had been allowed to expire three times in seven years, discouraging investment in wind turbine manufacturing. The association is calling for a long-term extension of the credit before it is scheduled to expire at the end of 2007.

Increasing wind's role is possible. Europe, which has inferior wind resources compared to this country, is a pacesetter. Germany and Spain, for example, are on route to producing at least 10 percent of their power generation from wind while Denmark has passed the 20 percent threshold. In this country, the potential is in those states with the greatest wind speeds and in those places that are dependent on gas but where it is in short supply.

So what's stopping development? At present, the demand for wind exceeds the supply of wind turbines and the various components that go into production. That's why the price to generate wind has risen in the last few years. Manufacturers are cranking up production but it will take a few years to build up. At the same time -- and more significantly -- the transmission infrastructure is not adequate. That is, such places as North and South Dakota are rich with wind resources but are not able to harness the resource because would-be developers cannot connect to the grid.

Despite some of the hurdles, about 20 percent of all utilities nationally in regulated markets now offer green energy options. Altogether, roughly 600 utilities give 40 million customers in 34 states the ability to purchase renewable energy to meet some portion of their electricity needs -- a proposition that has resonated with some Wall Street analysts.

Critics say, however, that the current build out of wind farms is a direct function of the lucrative tax breaks given to developers. Without those incentives, they add that wind would not be economically viable. Proponents are quick to counter that fossil fuels receive far more government support.

But, moreover, wind advocates say that detractors are missing the point. That is, the overall push is to move toward more sustainable fuel sources and away from those with the greatest emissions. And like any emerging technology, wind power -- for now -- needs federal assistance to get it into the mainstream.

"If you think of wind as an added variable -- not something in isolation -- but in the context of running an entire portfolio, it is attractive," says Brian Parsons, with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. "We are displacing gas and other fuels. That's the main value." By today's standards, 10,000 megawatts of wind power saves about 0.6 billion cubic feet per day, or about 3.5 percent of the natural gas used nationwide to generate electricity.

Clearly, wind's promise is derived from its potential economic value as well as its environmental benefits. Utilities know all too well that gas prices have gyrated while coal plants are under constant pressure to modernize.

As such, utilities now see wind power as a tool to balance cost, reliability and fuel diversity. And if the use of wind energy is going to expand, then the technology to produce it must continue to advance while the country's transmission infrastructure must accommodate an ever-increasing demand.