Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Senate Energy Bill Running on Empty

From Newsday, this accurate and insightful editorial on the energy bill passed last week by the U.S. Senate. Glaciers may be melting around the world, but not swiftly enough to affect the glacial pace of legislation dealing with our country's energy policies.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Renewable Energy: The Regional Debate, Part 2

We've spent some time at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) researching the issues raised in my recent post on the question of whether using more wind would unfairly disadvantage less windy states. Here are results from a fact sheet we are sending up to Capitol Hill, where the U.S. Senate will vote tomorrow on the Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard amendment:


Wind energy is currently produced in more states than any conventional electric power fuel source.

All states currently import and export energy sources such as coal and natural gas, to meet each state’s energy needs.

Nearly 40 states currently import natural gas and coal from other states. Under a National 15% [Renewable Energy Standard], some states may have to import renewable energy from other states. However, most states have some indigenous renewable energy sources including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal. States that do not produce sufficient renewable energy have the option of securing market credits to meet renewable energy goals.

Wind and other renewable resources are domestically produced energy sources. The U.S. currently imports 3% of our coal, 19% of our natural gas, and 80% of our uranium from foreign nations.

Four states produce uranium, 28 import it;
25 states produce coal, 39 import it;
32 states produce natural gas, 38 import it;
35 states produce wind power, 10-20 import it.

(In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy found in a 1991 study of wind resources nationwide that 9 additional states, besides the 35 currently producing some wind power, have sufficient wind resources for commercial production, making the total number of potential and actual wind producers 44 of 50 states.)

The Senate will vote tomorrow on the Bingaman amendment. If you support this first meaningful step to fight global warming, contact your Senator's office through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and let him/her know you support the Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard. Or go to


Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Wind Power Storage Myth

It seems so intuitive, so right: everyone knows from direct experience that the wind is variable, and so it really can't be a serious energy source without some form of storage, can it?

Of all of the myths about wind power (of which anti-wind folks, with their covert allies and backers in competing energy industries, are inventing new, creative additions daily), this one is probably the oldest and most difficult to stamp out. Only today, many news sources carried a summary by Reuters energy reporter Timothy Gardner of a new book, Lights Out, by Jason Makansi. The summary includes the following quote:

Wind power won't take off unless there's more investment in how to store the energy, according to Makansi.

I suppose it all depends on what you mean by "take off." Wind power generates a bit less than 1% of U.S. electricity today (it should cross the 1% line by the end of this year), so for me, "taking off" would mean getting to 10% or 20%, in the general range that natural gas (17%) and nuclear power (20%) generate today. Maybe Makansi has something higher in mind--setting an unrealistic bar is one of the easiest ways to belittle a new technology. But anyway . . .

Storage is not, repeat not, required for a significant expansion of wind power from its current level to a level 10 or 20 times as great, at which point it will be a major contributor to U.S. electricity supply. Variability of wind is best addressed by utilities in the same way they address variability in current generation and load, which is to control certain resources to match aggregate load. All existing resources occasionally shut down with no notice, and these forced outages require backup and reserves. Wind is only different in that its output changes are more gradual and can be greater in magnitude, and that is not necessarily more difficult to manage. Storage might be cost-effective for power system operators some day in the future, but is generally not cost-effective today, and is not required, either for conventional resources or for wind. As the U.S. Department of Energy puts it in an excellent short publication, Wind Energy Myths:

The utility system is . . . designed to accommodate load fluctuations, which occur continuously. This feature also facilitates accommodation of wind plant output fluctuations. In Denmark, Northern Germany, and parts of Spain, wind supplies 20% to 40% of electric loads without sacrificing reliability. When wind is added to a utility system, no new backup is required to maintain system reliability.

Ironically, Makansi's main theme is to flog something that is perfectly true: the fact that America's electricity transmission system is aging and inadequate and in desperate need of an overhaul. This is ironic because more transmission is exactly what is needed for the power system to handle more wind--the wind is always blowing somewhere, so shipping the wind-generated electricity from where it is being produced to where it can be used is key to using it as cheaply and effectively as possible.

Those who wish to dig more deeply into this topic will find an excellent collection of resources at the Utility Wind Integration Group site.

This is not to say that more storage would be bad: one of the truly exciting possibilities on the horizon is plug-in hybrid autos, which would allow wind power not just to supply electricity, but to replace a sizable chunk of the oil our nation uses for transportation. But we don't need more storage to use much more wind for electricity generation. Period.

Renewable Energy: The Regional Debate

The U.S. Senate is currently debating a National Renewable Energy Standard. Under an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, electric utilities would be required to obtain a growing percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, new hydro, solar, wind), with the percentage reaching 15% by 2020.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Bingaman amendment would be Congress's first major action to address the growing issue of global warming, Senate Republicans are blocking it by threatening a filibuster (meaning that 60 votes would be needed to pass it rather than a majority.) During the debate, much was made of the argument that some states are not windy, and would therefore be disadvantaged by the Bingaman amendment, and that it would "shift wealth" from one region to another. For example, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said, "We cannot ignore the reality that some regions of the country cannot meet the [standard]. Since they cannot produce it, they’ll have to pay a fine, a pretty whopping penalty."

It's an interesting and compelling point, if true. Would a Renewable Energy Standard really introduce a sweeping change into the way that energy is currently produced and distributed in the U.S.? Consider:

  • Most if not all states import fuel--coal from other states; natural gas from other states, Canada and overseas; uranium, ditto; oil from overseas (yes, some imported oil is indeed used to generate electricity, mostly in New England and Hawaii).

  • "Importing" wind--a domestic "fuel"--from state to state (via transmission lines) will benefit the whole country (due to reduced imports of natural gas and oil from overseas), and is not a departure from current practice on behalf of other fuels.

  • A very preliminary (all we have had time for so far) look at state-by-state distribution of commercial energy production reveals the following:

    32 states have commercial wind installations (and at least one more will soon)
    32 states have natural gas production
    28 states have petroleum production
    25 states have coal
    3 states have uranium

    Thus, wind is actually one of the most widely distributed natural resources. Also, it appears that huge transfers of wealth are no problem for opponents of the Bingaman amendment, as long as they are already happening--only modest future transfers that might run in some different direction need to be stamped out.

    We’ve made investments to move natural gas, coal and uranium across state lines and, in some cases (e.g., building transmission lines to so-called "mine-mouth" electric power plants that are built next to coal mines), to use the fuel on location. Likewise, wind is a resource we should encourage all states to use.

    (In addition, all of the Southeastern states that have poor wind resources have excellent biomass energy potential, according to the U.S. Department of Energy--but that's another story.)

    The Bingaman amendment may come up soon for a vote in the Senate. If you support this first meaningful step to fight global warming, contact your Senator's office through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and let him/her know you support the Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard. Or go to

  • Friday, June 15, 2007

    Senate Republicans Block Renewable Energy

    Senate Republicans have threatened to filibuster against the Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard amendment. With the polls showing very strong, indeed overwhelming, support for clean alternative energy sources and for action against global warming, it's hard to understand this position. Nearly half of all states (24) have similar renewable energy standards already, and some have even passed new laws increasing the percentages of renewable energy required.

    The Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard would:

  • Reduce global warming pollution from electric power plants;
  • Create brand new manufacturing industries with thousands of new jobs;
  • Revitalize rural communities through the increased tax base and payments to landowners that wind and other renewable energy projects bring;
  • Help meet America's steadily growing electricity demand;
  • Save consumers more than $100 billion through 2026.

    If you support this first meaningful step to fight global warming, contact your Senator's office through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and let him/her know you support the Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard. Or go to

  • Wednesday, June 13, 2007

    Costs of a Renewable Portfolio Standard?

    Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute complains that the Energy Information Administration has found that the Bingaman Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) would cost consumers a net of $18 billion through the year 2030.

    It should be noted that a similar analysis in March by Wood Mackenzie, a respected oil & gas research firm, found that the same RPS provision would save consumers more than $100 billion through 2026. From the Wood Mackenzie press release:

    According to the report, the adoption of a 15% Federal RPS will require a flood of new wind and other renewable projects well beyond current proposed projects, leading to a 500-percent increase in renewable capacity from current levels by 2026. This increase translates into an incremental construction cost of $134 billion (2006 dollars) between 2006 and 2026. The report also shows the switch to renewable energy will drive down demand and price of natural gas. "The lower fuel costs and fossil fuel consumption will lead to lower electricity costs," continued Sannicandro. "Over the next 20 years, the Federal RPS case leads to a savings of $240 billion (2006 dollars) in wholesale power costs, outweighing the higher capital investment to build the additional capacity."

    Close Vote Likely on Bingaman Renewable Energy Standard

    Inside word on the Bingaman Renewable Portfolio Standard is that the vote will be very tight. If you support this concept, the time to weigh in is right now. You can reach any Senator's office through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Further information here.

    Maple Ridge Wind Farm Bird Collisions Few

    The latest of many avian studies at wind farms has been released, a heavy-duty look at bird and bat kills at the new Maple Ridge wind project in upstate New York. The results?

  • Bird collisions were very few in number, which is typical of U.S. wind farms. Regular searches around 50 wind turbines found 125 birds (not all necessarily killed by the turbines).

  • Only one raptor (bird of prey) was found, an American kestrel (a common species).

  • Bat mortality was higher and remains an issue. 326 bats were found, equating to roughly 10-15 per megawatt of generating capacity. This is fewer than at Appalachian sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia where the bat problem appears to be centered, but definitely not negligible. (The wind energy industry, Bat Conservation International, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are partners in a multi-year research effort to understand the bat collision problem and find ways to reduce mortality. Currently, that program is aimed at testing a sonic deterrent to warn bats away from wind farms.)

  • No threatened or endangered bats found. This continues the pattern at U.S. wind sites.

    The detailed language from the Maple Ridge report provides some very interesting insights:

    People/agencies who reviewed the proposed scope of work [for the study] included staffers from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), Environmental Design and Research (EDR), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, developers (PPM and Horizon), and others. Representatives from some or all of these groups have been included in a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which has the responsibility of reviewing and commenting on progress reports, annual reports, and other updates from this project.

    This is typical of wildlife studies at wind farm sites. Studies are often attacked by anti-wind groups on grounds that they are carried out by consulting firms that are supposedly pro-industry. However, a Technical Advisory Committee with government agency experts who have no vested interest is a common practice.

    The methods used include searches under turbines in concert with studies of carcass removal rates (scavenging) and searcher efficiency rates.

    Again typical: the firm conducting the study runs tests to determine how quickly birds and bats are removed from the site by predators and how good the individuals doing the ground searches are at finding dead animals.

    The Maple Ridge project currently consists of 195 1.65-MW turbines, for a total of 322 MW of nameplate generating capacity. Each turbine is approximately 400 feet (122 meters) in height.

    As with most turbine facilities across the United States, the numbers of fatalities of night migrants was fairly low at the Maple Ridge facility. Determining the exact number of night migrants is difficult, however, as the birds involved may be resident breeders. The numbers were especially small in comparison with fatality rates of these birds at tall, guyed communication towers in the Midwestern and eastern United States where fatalities sometimes involve hundreds or even thousands of birds in a single night or migration season.

    Why are the numbers so low? We don't know for sure, but one major reason appears to be that turbines are lighted differently than communications towers: turbines have red flashing (strobe) lights, while communication towers also have steady-burning red lights. The steady-burning lights appear to attract migrating birds on foggy nights. Also, communications towers have miles of guy wire, a major hazard for disoriented birds circling a light, and are greater in height.

    Those towers have two types of Federal Aviation Administration lighting (steady burning red L-810 and flashing red incandescent beacons – L-864), multiple sets of guy wires, and are almost always in excess of 500 feet (152 m). We conducted tests of night migrant incidents found at lit and unlit towers for both the 30 7-day search sites and the 10 1-day search sites . . . If the red flashing beacons attracted birds to turbines, a disproportionately greater number of these fatalities would have been found at turbines with lights and, or large-scale, multiple fatality events would have been observed. We did not see a clear relationship between the numbers of night migrant fatalities and the presence of L-864 red flashing beacons on turbines.

    The Maple Ridge report also comments briefly on the question of whether bird collisions with wind turbines affect overall populations (total numbers) of bird species:

    The eastern population of the Golden-crowned Kinglet, which was found most often during searches, is estimated to be decreasing across the US but stable or increasing in the Eastern US. (Table 21). Given the overall population level of this species (estimated 34 million birds), it is difficult to presume that collision mortality at the Maple Ridge [wind farm] has a significant adverse effect on population levels, even with respect to cumulative impacts of fatalities from many wind plants.

    The population of the second most common find (Red-eyed vireo) is listed as increasing, with an estimated overall population level of 140 million. The only two species listed as significantly decreasing are the Red-winged Blackbird and the Common Grackle, both very common and wide ranging species.

    Wind turbines remain the single most thoroughly studied of all sources of human-related bird mortality--see, for example, the WEST, Inc., wind/avian studies collection. Thousands of birds do die in collisions (with thousands of wind turbines) at wind farms across the U.S., but it is clear that wind farms remain an insignificant threat to birds, and that birds and wind power--even large amounts of wind power--can coexist. A recent National Academy of Sciences report found that in 2003, wind turbine kills amounted to less than .003% (three of every one hundred thousand) human-related bird deaths. At the same time:

  • A 2004 international scientific study concluded that one million species might be driven to extinction by global warming by the year 2050.

  • Wind energy is one of the technology "wedges" that other scientists have identified as being necessary to avoid this nightmare scenario.

  • Wind power also reduces air pollution, water pollution, mining and drilling--all of which have negative effects on wildlife.

    Wind power challenges our ability to be numerate, to maintain perspective, to be rational and not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the very, very good. I believe how we deal with it will determine whether we are indeed up to the task of ending global warming.

  • Tuesday, June 12, 2007

    Wind Group Asks Support for RPS

    June 12, 2007 Contact:
    Christine Real de Azua (202) 383-2508


    AWEA urges Congress to enact strong Bingaman RPS,
    oppose weakening Domenici Amendment

    As the U.S. Congress takes up wide-ranging energy legislation, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) issued the following statement in support of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) proposed by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico. Sen. Bingaman’s RPS would require that 15% of the country’s electricity come from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2020.

    “A strong RPS is an essential element of an effective national energy strategy: it can address the simultaneous challenges of growing electricity demand and climate change,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher.

    Strike a real blow against global warming! Register your support for a strong RPS today!

    “Wind energy technology is the single most cost-effective, zero-carbon energy option that we have available today. Our nation is also blessed with an abundance of solar and other renewable, zero-carbon energy sources. The Bingaman RPS provides the crucial long-term policy support that is needed for wind and all renewable energy technologies to become major contributors to electricity supply and solve the double challenge of global warming and growing electricity demand. Any attempts to weaken it should be opposed.”

    There is broad support for a strong national RPS. A coalition including Fortune 500 companies, the United Steelworkers, and major environmental groups has sent a letter to Members of Congress urging adoption of a strong RPS.

    AWEA opposes a proposal by Senator Pete Domenici, Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, that would undermine the RPS and introduce several serious loopholes. AWEA has sent a letter to Senate leaders respectfully urging a vote against it. The Domenici standard would weaken the RPS and:

    * Authorize the Secretary of Energy to certify any form of energy as “clean;”
    * Allow states to opt out of the bill’s requirements;
    * Would continue a long history of playing politics with the climate issue.

    AWEA, formed in 1974, is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. The association's membership includes turbine manufacturers, wind project developers, utilities, academicians, and interested individuals. More information on wind energy is available at the AWEA web site:

    # # #

    Saturday, June 09, 2007

    Wind Power and Land Use

    Quick factoid: for wind power to provide 20% of U.S. electricity, roughly 33,000 square miles of land would be required. This is an amount of land equal to approximately one-third of Colorado, one-third of Wyoming, or one-fifth of Montana. Further, 95% to 98% of that 33,000 square miles would continue to be available for farming or ranching--the actual footprint of the wind turbines and supporting equipment (including service roads) is 2% to 5% of the land within a wind farm's boundary. Conclusion: availability of land, in gross terms, is not a constraint to onshore development of large amounts of wind power in the U.S.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    Natural Gas Prices Drift Higher; More Wind Needed

    USA Today reports today that natural gas prices are edging higher:

    The cost at the pump isn't the only high gas price nowadays.

    Sparked by worries about hot weather and a busy hurricane season, natural gas prices have jumped in the last week to the highest since December. Tuesday, the price for natural gas trading in New York for delivery in July closed at $8.064 per million British thermal units. Although that was slightly lower than the previous day's close, it was 25% above the price seen a year ago.

    For consumers, the higher natural gas prices mean heating costs could be elevated this winter for the most popular heating source in the USA if the gains hold. Increased natural gas prices also could lead to higher electricity costs later this summer to power air conditioners, because a large amount of electricity is generated with natural gas.

    Generating electricity with wind power helps to conserve natural gas and also exerts some downward pressure on natural gas prices, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Natural gas generators can be "turned up and down" rapidly, one of the primary way utilities cope with varying customer electricity demand throughout the day, and so they are also the easiest to adjust when clean wind power is being delivered to the utility system. Also, the oldest and dirtiest gas generators are usually the most expensive to run, and the first to be turned down or off when wind power is being produced.

    Department of Interior Opposes Anti-Wind Provision of Rahall Bill

    The U.S. Department of the Interior weighed in yesterday on the anti-wind-power section of legislation sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall II and currently pending before the committee.

    Said the Department's letter in part,

    Subtitle D. Ensuring Safety of Wildlife With Respect to Wind Energy.

    We recommend subtitle D be deleted.

    Sections 231 through 235 would require the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Fish and Wildlife Service, to promultate regulations that establish minimum standards for siting, construction, monitoring, and adaptive management that must be satisfied by all wind projects to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse impacts on migratory birds, bats, and other wildlife. The regulations would need to be promulgated within 180 days after enactment of H.R. 2337. We agree it is important that wind power facilities seek to minimize and mitigate adverse impacts on migratory birds, bats and other wildlife. In fact, the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and other federal statutes must be complied with. However, the Department of the Interior opposes this subtitle as its enactment would be premature.

    On March 13, 2007, the Secretary of the Interior announced the Formation of a Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) Committee, the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee, to look at the very issues raised under Section 231. The FACA Committee consists of a broad group of representatives, including those from State and Federal agencies, environmental groups, and industry organizations. They will be carefully considering all of the issues related to wind energy facilities and making recommendations whether the guidelines can be voluntary, mandatory, or may require regulations. Therefore, we believe it is premature for Congress to legislate this process and instead we would like Congress to allow the FACA process to move forward.

    If you would like to learn more about Subtitle D, which would basically stop the wind industry dead in its tracks for 6 months to as long as three years by making it a federal crime to generate clean wind energy without a permit from the federal government, go here. To take action to oppose this ill-advised legislation, go here.

    Utilities Talk More Wind

    Airtricity Chairman Pat Wood, moderator of the "Utility Leadership in Wind Energy Development" session at the WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition

    Utilities are turning to wind—even as the “centerpiece of their portfolio” in some cases—because customers want it and policy calls for it, said utility and industry officials at the WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition on Tuesday.

    The opening session at WINDPOWER 2007, “Utility Leadership in Wind Energy Development,” brought together officials from both investor-owned and municipal utilities, in addition to the Bonneville Power Administration. Rounding out the panel was California Independent System Operator President and CEO Yakout Mansour.

    “Across the country, the utility embrace of wind power is now a national phenomenon,” said Airtricity Chairman Pat Wood, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the panel’s moderator. Wood set the stage for the discussion by pointing out that utilities, the entities that ultimately deliver the power to the end user, are a crucial piece of the wind equation. “If the utility industry . . . is not engaged in this effort, we can’t go anywhere,” he said.

    Thankfully, many utilities are engaged—for one, Xcel Energy, the No. 1 provider of wind energy to customers in the U.S. The utility will have 2,800 MW in wind capacity for its customers by the end of 2007, said Paul Bonavia, president of Xcel Energy’s utilities group. That number will rise to 6,000 MW by 2020, he said. “We listen to our customers, and they’re telling us this is something that they want and value,” he said. “We would rather take our bet on technologies of the future than on technologies of the past.”

    That commitment to the customers is what drives utilities, who are primarily concerned with such issues as reliability and the rates they must charge customers. Bonneville Power Administration Administrator Stephen Wright, who referenced a recent study in which the organization was involved concluding that 6,000 MW of wind is “technically feasible,” expressed concern over the large amount of load growth taking place in several regions of the country at a time when resource constraints are increasing. “We need the wind industry to work with us to make sure we don’t have a reliability crisis and we don’t have a rate crisis,” he said.

    The need for new generation resources was echoed by Yakout Mansour, who as the president and CEO of the California Independent System Operator is involved in the state’s quest to achieve its recently enacted ambitious renewable portfolio standard goals. In a mere five years, he said, the state will need to add over 7,000 MW of renewable energy capacity. “I need your help, I need it badly, and I need it now,” he told the audience.

    Utility officials were eager to use the forum as an opportunity to communicate such perspectives and needs. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which owns its own wind, is looking for ways to add more wind onto its system through diversifying geographically (its turbines are primarily in one area) and other means. A “wish list” from Sacramento Municipal Utility District General Manager Jan Schori included improved forecasting, a sentiment echoed by Wright. Day-ahead forecasting, Schori said, is “not that good right now.” She also said she would like to see longer warranty and service agreements on turbines and equipment, which she said are more common in Europe. “We need you to think more like a utility,” she said.

    Schori also expressed a common theme at WINDPOWER 2007: “We all need to cooperate on the transmission problem.”

    As participants acknowledged the needs and challenges ahead, one theme that emerged was how several utilities—namely, those represented on the panel—now consider wind a key piece of their generation mix. Bonavia called wind “the centerpiece of our portfolio.” Asked how more utilities might become more comfortable with adding wind onto their systems, Bonavia said, “We need to have success stories.”

    --from the American Wind Energy Association's Wind Energy Weekly, special WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition Daily Edition.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    Daschle, Industry Leaders: Global Warming Will Increasingly Push Wind Power Industry

    The wind power industry can become a key contributor to the electricity resource mix, but it’s going to take stable and long-term policy to get there, said a lineup of WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition panelists that included top industry executives along with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

    Speaking at a general session on expanding the wind industry, the panel—verbalizing the overall buzz at WINDPOWER 2007, which surpassed 6,500 attendees on its first full day—said that wind and renewables stand poised for major breakthroughs in terms of growth and penetration. Daschle said the renewables industry has the potential to have the “same economic impact as the dot-com revolution.” He called for a long-term extension of the production tax credit and a federal renewable portfolio standard—two specific policies that will likely be taken up in Congress in the coming weeks and months.

    The panel consensus was that, as Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the Global Wind Energy Council, said, “Climate change will increasingly be the determining factor” in terms of policy affecting wind energy. The public, panelists said, is coming to understand the necessity of addressing global warming and the importance of renewables; however, members of the panel said, the industry needs to do even more in communicating this message. “I think one of our priorities has to be to make this case to the public,” said Robert Lukefahr, president, Power Americas at BP Alternative Energy.

    As an executive with BP, Lukefahr offered a perspective of the broader energy industry, saying that achieving 20% wind penetration seems “nearly impossible” but that it actually is achievable, especially when considering the energy industry’s history of reaching large-scale goals. One example: in the mid 1970s, the oil industry was limited to drilling in water depths of 500 feet; now it drills approximately five miles down.

    Regarding global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, Steven Chalk, deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency at the U.S. Department of Energy, said it is imperative that the nation scale up in wind power and other renewables. “Energy efficiency is not going to get us to our goals,” he said. Agreeing with Chalk, Lukefahr illustrated the point by saying that if all the automobiles in the world ran on hydrogen, greenhouse gas emissions would still rise because of the huge role power plants play in contributing to the problem.

    On the technology side, GE Energy Vice President of Renewable Energy Vic Abate said that ramping up to 20% wind will involve a “multi-generational product plan.” He projects a 15% increase in capacity factor on new turbines, although the overall fleet of turbines in use in the U.S. naturally will vary in technology because of their varying ages. That’s a natural evolution, he said, likening it to advances in fossil-fuel plants between the 1950s and now.
    Governors, Mayor Help Kick Off WINDPOWER 2007 with Bold Vision for Wind

    Two governors, a former Senate majority leader, the mayor of Los Angeles, and a host of top industry leaders on Monday kicked off the WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition by saying wind energy—with the right governmental policies—is one of the key solutions to global warming.

    AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher set the stage for the morning’s dialogue, sharing the industry’s vision for 20% of the nation’s electricity needs to come from wind by 2030—an initiative that the industry, AWEA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other stakeholders spent the last year working on after first unveiling it at WINDPOWER 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pa. “That’s a bold vision. It’s not a forecast, but it’s a plausible scenario,” said Swisher. “It requires a transformation of the industry.”

    Swisher, along with panelists at the general session that followed (see related story below), underscored the challenges of achieving such a vision. In order to reach the 20% benchmark, policy support, such as the federal production tax credit (PTC) and a federal renewable portfolio standard, would need to be long-term and stable, enabling the industry’s value chain to be augmented and made more efficient. A 20% level of wind penetration, which would mean installing over 300 gigawatts in capacity, also requires building the necessary transmission infrastructure to carry wind power from wind-rich areas to load centers.

    As part of the 20% initiative, American Electric Power developed a map of what a transmission system might look like with 20% wind penetration. The cost to build such an infrastructure would be $60 billion, AEP concluded. (Regardless of the role wind plays, the nation’s transmission infrastructure is in need of major upgrade.)

    Swisher also said that for wind to realize its potential, geographically large electricity markets and regional transmission organizations such as the PJM Interconnection would need to be the norm, thus maximizing wind’s strengths while minimizing its variable nature. Other challenges, said Swisher, include the need to streamline the siting and permitting processes.

    “We realize that it’s not going to be easy, but I think the industry is ready to play,” he said.

    Governors Brian Schweitzer (D-Mont.) and Chet Culver (D-Iowa) both extolled the economic benefits of wind power and spoke of the renewable resource in terms of the energy security that it fosters. “It’s good business, it’s big business, and it’s good for Montana’s economy,” said Schweitzer.

    The Montana governor showed his understanding of the integral part transmission plays in wind’s growth, referencing the proposed Montana-Alberta Tie Line project as well as the Northern Lights line, which would link Montana wind power with the major load centers of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Nev., and Phoenix, Ariz.

    Culver was equally enthusiastic and knowledgeable, speaking of the three wind industry manufacturers that have planted roots in his state, the most recent one being Acciona, which just broke ground on its facility in Iowa. “I believe the key to this new 21 st century expedition begins with renewable energy, and especially wind power, and that’s why I’m here today,” said Culver.

    U.S. Representative Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) was an appropriate and noteworthy part of the lineup because of his background in the wind energy industry and commitment to renewables in Congress. In addition to underscoring the importance of such policies as the PTC, McNerney reminisced on how the industry has grown since his early days in the business. He said the turnout at WINDPOWER 2007, expected to approach 7,000 attendees, “shows not only the enthusiasm but the energy of this industry.”

    The Los Angeles setting for WINDPOWER 2007 is particularly appropriate because of the city’s commitment to green power and the environment under the leadership of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D). The city will get 20% of its electricity from renewables by 2010, the mayor said, and also has a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 35% below 1990 levels by 2030. “Very few issues have greater meaning for the future of the city of Los Angeles,” said the mayor.

    --from the American Wind Energy Association's Wind Energy Weekly, special WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition Daily Edition.

    Monday, June 04, 2007

    AWEA Announces Careers in Wind Job Board

    AWEA is pleased to announce the Careers in Wind Job Board, the first online career destination dedicated exclusively to the wind energy industry.

    The Careers in Wind Job Board allows employers to:

  • Post and manage job opportunities
  • Reach qualified candidates
  • Search resumes
  • Use templates for multiple postings

    Job Seekers can:

  • Post resumes
  • Search/browse job listings
  • Create job alerts to find matching opportunities

    To celebrate the release of the Careers in Wind Job Board, AWEA is offering employers a 50% discount on job listings, now through June 8th. Place your listing(s) today, to take advantage of this special introductory offer.

    Visit the Careers in Wind Job Board at: .
  • Awards at WINDPOWER 2007 Highlight Wind Energy's Emergence into Mainstream

    The American Wind Energy Association will recognize corporate and industry leaders, national policymakers, experts, and renewable energy advocates at the WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition, in Los Angeles, Calif., June 4-6.

    WINDPOWER is now the world’s largest annual wind energy conference and trade show.

    “The wind energy industry is delighted to honor business and industry leaders, lawmakers, advocates, and many others for their dedication and leadership in the development of wind power,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “By advancing wind power, these leaders are advancing an essential element of the solution to global warming and helping power a cleaner, stronger America.”

    The following honorees will be recognized:

    Corporate Leadership: Starbucks. For leadership in using as much as 20% renewable energy to power the company’s operations. Starbucks shows by example that good environmental practices and good business aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Technical Achievement: Dick Piwko, Nick Miller, Gary Jordan, and Kara Clark, GE Energy, wind integration study team. For significant contributions to understanding the technical and economic aspects of utility wind integration through their analytical work on wind integration in New York, California and Canada.

    Achievement in Operations: Jamie Thompson, Horizon Wind Energy ( Blue Canyon I & II). For developing successful, effective working relationships with landowners, customer utilities and service contractors, and for maximizing plant performance through highly sophisticated use of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems, high voltage system, and knowledge of the plants’ wind turbines.

    Industry Person of the Year: Jim Walker, enXco. For his vision and efforts to help the wind industry move forward in two areas of significance: (1) getting ahead of the wind/wildlife siting challenges curve, and (2) establishing a wind industry road map.

    Wind Energy Advocacy: Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT). For playing an important leadership role in victories for renewable energy over the last 15 years, including a California Renewables Portfolio Standard, resolution of avian siting issues in Altamont (California), acquisition of renewable energy by the city of Los Angeles, breakthrough on transmission issues, and progressive climate change initiatives.

    Special Achievement: Andy Linehan, PPM Energy. For gifted advocacy and leadership in responsibly permitting and siting wind projects, and actively contributing to the development of new voluntary guidelines and siting policies across the U.S.

    Commercial Achievement: AWEA member companies Gamesa Energia, Clipper Windpower, Suzlon Wind Energy, DMI Industries, LM Glasfiber and TPI Composites. For their efforts to increase the manufacturing of wind turbines in the U.S. The new facilities these companies have opened and are planning demonstrate that wind power development is a vital and fast-growing source of new jobs here in the U.S.

    Congressional Leadership:

    Senator Charles Grassley: For outstanding leadership in support of wind energy and the wind energy production tax credit (PTC). Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) is recognized as the “father” of this effective and popular credit.

    Senator Harry Reid: For excellence in leadership in support of wind and other renewable technologies. Senator Reid (D-Nev.) has been a strong and consistent champion of renewable energy and helped ensure passage of a renewables portfolio standard in the Senate in 2005.

    Senator Max Baucus: For steadfast leadership in support of windand other renewable technologies. Senator Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is advocating a long-term extension of the PTC.

    Lifetime Achievement - Dr. Forrest (Woody) Stoddard: (Already awarded.) To a visionary leader, teacher, and pioneer, in recognition of years of outstanding industry leadership and support.
    AWEA Executive Director Welcomes WINDPOWER 2007 Attendees

    Welcome to Los Angeles and the WINDPOWER 2007 Conference & Exhibition!

    On behalf of the AWEA Board of Directors and staff, I hope you find this week an invaluable ‘window’ on the state of the wind industry. We are excited about the industry’s future and believe that this week’s events can help build a foundation for sustained growth for decades to come.

    We are gathered in Los Angeles around a theme of compelling interest to AWEA members – “Growing the Wind Business” – and many of the presentations will be focused on exploring that theme. What are the challenges we must confront if we are to sustain the industry’s record growth? What are the steps we must take today to ensure that the industry has steady growth for decades to come? What are the public benefits that would accrue from a wind industry that is 20 times larger than today’s industry?

    Last year, President Bush recognized that this industry has the potential to provide as much as 20% of the nation’s electricity. We’ve taken the President’s statement as an invitation to look closely at just how much potential this industry has as well as the steps we would need to take to achieve that potential.

    We are experiencing another record year in 2007, and the size of this event reflects the substantial growth of the industry. The U.S. was the largest single market for wind in the world in 2005 and 2006, and, with continued policy support, we expect strong demand in this country for years to come. Not surprisingly, given the industry growth, WINDPOWER 2007 will be our largest conference in history, with more than 6,500 attendees gathered at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The exhibition is especially impressive, with 419 exhibitors expected—a 40% increase in the size of the exhibition compared to last year’s record event! For those of you that are veterans of the industry, think back a decade or so to earlier AWEA trade shows and be amazed at how far the wind industry has come in such a short time. I want to thank our exhibitors for making such a significant investment of their time and resources, and pledge to you our commitment to work to ensure that this week is worth every minute of your time.

    As the scope of this event has grown, it has become an increasingly complex management challenge. On the program side, we were faced with an enormous stack of thoughtfully constructed abstracts from many expert presenters, and the great majority of the abstracts would have been a positive contribution to the agenda. Unfortunately, there was no way to make room for them all, but the strong interest in participating is a major contribution to the quality of the event.

    The Conference Program Committee was led by two very strong and capable Co-Chairs – Adam Umanoff of Chadbourne & Parke, LLP, on the business side, and Bob Zavadil of Enernex Corp., on the technical side. Adam and Bob assembled a well-qualified Program Committee representing a wide range of expertise and spent an entire day with the Committee reviewing abstracts and building the strongest possible program. As you will be able to tell, the process worked. Thanks to Adam and Bob for doing an amazing job as Program Chairs for this impressive event.

    I would also like to single out AWEA’s Conference and Education Department—directed by Stephen Miner, and including Stefanie Brown, Sakura Emerine, Lori Rugh, Marissa Bundy, Monica Wolfe, and Michael Swinburne—for the countless hours they have invested in making this the best possible conference it can be. They have succeeded in staying on top of a growing number of details and have really taken this conference to the next level of professionalism. I want to express my appreciation to them and to every member of the AWEA staff for the huge effort that was required to bring this event together.

    Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to our sponsors for this event, who are listed in this program. Special thanks go to our Giga-Watt level sponsors: NRG Systems, GE Energy, and Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP. The support from these companies and all of our other sponsors has allowed us to enhance the conference in a variety of ways for your benefit.

    Thanks to all of you for joining us here in Los Angeles and welcome to WINDPOWER 2007!

    Randall Swisher
    Executive Director
    American Wind Energy Association

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Deep Information on U.S. Wind Market

    Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have released their first annual report on the U.S. wind power market (with a summary PowerPoint). Great stuff, full of insightful statistics and observations. I'll mention just a few to whet your appetite:

  • Wind power amounted to 19% of the new nameplate electric generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2006, second only to natural gas as a new power source.

  • The U.S. ranked first in the world in new wind capacity installed in 2006 at 2,454 MW. In total cumulative wind capacity, however, the U.S. (11,575 MW) still trails well behind Germany (20,652 MW) and a hair behind Spain (11,614 MW). (My guess is that we will pass Spain, at least temporarily, by the end of this year.)

  • India ranked third in the world in new wind capacity last year with 1,840 MW.

  • The U.S. share of new installations in the world has hovered between 10% and 20% for the past two years, up nicely from the miserable days of the 1990s, but far below the early 1980s, when our market share was 100% in some years. (My opinion: We really had the chance to dominate this emerging industry, and systematically blew it due to the failed federal energy policies of the 1980s.)

  • The percentage of electricity consumption that Denmark generates from wind (21.4%) is more than 20 times as high as the U.S. (0.9%).

    All this and much, much more in a first-rate piece of work that is an indispensable tool for anyone wanting to learn more about this industry. For previous market reports from the American Wind Energy Association and Global Wind Energy Council see "Global Market Reports" here.