Public Service Company of Oklahoma, a utility with about 540,000 customers, is planning to buy 600 MW of wind power, expecting to save $53 million in the first year, with savings increasing each year thereafter over the 20-year life of the contract. A step toward execution of the contract was announced today, January 24, 2014. For more go here.
The Wind Industry
A new study (Jan 2014) on the relationship between residential property values and wind development by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of Connecticut has just been reported. The study examined more than 122,000 home sales near 26 wind facilities (with over 1,500 within one mile of operating turbines) in Massachusetts, yet was unable to uncover any impacts to property values.
“This is the third of three major studies we have conducted on this topic [the first was published in 2009, and the second last August], and in all studies [using three different datasets] we find no statistical evidence that operating wind turbines have had any measureable impact on home sales prices,” says Ben Hoen, the co-author of the new report.
Pike Research senior analyst
Since 2008 wind turbine prices in the U.S. have fallen by nearly one-third on average, according to a new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). "Understanding Trends in Wind Turbine Prices Over the Past Decade" examines how $-per-kW costs have declined in recent years, after having previously doubled over the period from 2002 through 2008. Berkeley Lab analyzed price data on a sampling of U.S. wind turbine transactions totaling 23,850 megawatts from 1997 through early 2011.
Wind Energy Cost Drivers
In conjunction with improvements in turbine design and performance, falling turbine prices enable the latest generation of wind power projects to profitably sell electricity at prices well below what was common several years ago. The Berkeley Lab report examines seven primary drivers of wind turbine prices in the United States, with the goal of estimating the degree to which each contributed to the recent trend:
- Labor costs, which have historically risen during times of tight turbine supply
- Warranty provisions, which reflect technology performance and reliability
- Turbine manufacturer profitability, which can impact turbine prices independently of costs
- Turbine design, which is principally manifested through increased turbine size
- Raw materials prices, which affect the cost of inputs to the manufacturing process
- Energy prices, which impact the cost of manufacturing and transporting turbines
- Foreign exchange rates, which can impact the dollar amount paid for turbines and components imported into the United States
Wind Energy Outlook
The U.S. Department of Energy has set a goal of obtaining 6% of U.S. electricity from wind energy by 2020. That goal is consistent with the overall rate of growth for wind in the U.S., even though the industry has been subject to boom-bust cycles from year to year. According to a new report from Pike Research, total installed wind capacity in North America will more than double over the next six years, increasing from approximately 53,000 megawatts in 2011 to almost 126,000 megawatts by 2017.
"This will be another difficult year for wind power in North America, but we do see signs of recovery," says Peter Asmus, Pike Research senior analyst. "Larger, more efficient turbines are generating greater amounts of wind power at lower costs, and both the U.S. and Canadian governments have shown strong commitment to the wind industry during this challenging economic time."
Wind energy generation costs have declined over time to a current range of 6-9 cents per kilowatt-hour with an average of 8.2 cents, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Researchers and policy-makers are looking for ways to continue to lower the kilowatt hour cost of wind energy systems for effective growth and for related economic benefits.
Wind Energy Research
photo: Iowa State University
One research project is finding better ways to manufacture wind turbine components in the U.S. through a joint project of Iowa State University's Wind Energy Manufacturing Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories, and TPI Composites, a blade manufacturer. The researchers are using high-precision lasers to analyze wind turbine blades for minor defects and working to improve wind blade design and fabrication techniques.
The researchers' goal is to develop new, low-cost manufacturing systems that could improve the productivity of turbine blade factories by as much as 35 percent, which would support an avearge cost reduction to 6 cents per kilowatt hour by 2020. "Manufacturing in this industry is done largely by hand," says associate professor Frank Peters. "Our goal is to find ways to automate the manufacturing."
Use the following links for more information from cited sources:
Berkeley Lab report - "Understanding Trends in Wind Turbine Prices Over the Past Decade"
National Renewable Energy Laboratory - Open Energy Information
Pike Research - Wind Energy Outlook for North America
Iowa State University - Wind Energy Manufacturing Lab helps Iowa State engineers improve wind power
The U.S. Department of Energy released the "2010 Wind Technologies Market Report," prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, providing a comprehensive overview of trends in the U.S. wind power market. Despite a trying year in which wind power capacity additions declined significantly compared to both 2008 and 2009, the U.S. remained one of the fastest-growing wind power markets in the world in 2010-second only to China-according to the report.
Wind power comprised 25% of new U.S. electric capacity additions in 2010.
Wind power comprised 25% of new U.S. electric capacity additions in 2010 and represented $11 billion in new investment. Wind power contributes more than 10% of total electricity generation in four states, and provides more than 2% of total U.S. electricity supply.
Roughly 5 GW of new wind power capacity were connected to the U.S. grid in 2010, compared to nearly 10 GW in 2009 and more than 8 GW in 2008. "The delayed impact of the global financial crisis, relatively low natural gas and wholesale electricity prices, and slumping overall demand for energy combined to slow demand for new wind power installations in 2010," said Ryan Wiser, a scientist at Berkeley Lab and one of the authors of the study.
Some key findings of the study include:
- Due to the size and promise of the U.S. market, wind turbine manufacturers continued to localize production domestically in 2010, despite the relatively slow year.
- A growing percentage of the equipment used in U.S. wind power projects is domestically manufactured.
- Wind turbine prices have declined substantially since 2008.
- Technological advancements have improved wind turbine performance, particularly at lower wind speed sites.
- Turbine price reductions, coupled with improved turbine technology, are expected to exert downward pressure on total project costs and wind power prices over time.
- Looking ahead, projections are for modest growth in 2011 and 2012.
Berkeley Lab's contributions to this report were funded by the Wind & Water Power Program, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy. The full report ("2010 Wind Technologies Market Report"), a presentation slide deck that summarizes the report, and an Excel workbook that contains much of the data underlying the report, can all be downloaded from the Berkely Lab website.
Clean Energy Project Builder (formerly REDI Resources) is an online directory of community and small wind, and solar power companies from all over the United States who serve Minnesota’s clean energy industry. The directory allows you to browse companies; to search by specific services like engineering, operations & maintenance, or legal services; to find companies near you using geographic search; and to find companies through a range of other details like service area, number of employees, or completed project capacity.
Clean Energy Project Builder is a long-term resource provided through the collaborative efforts of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, Clean Energy Resource Teams, The Minnesota Project, and Windustry.
Windustry and partners present the Wind EnergyCenter at the MN State Fair
Windustry helped organize and produce the sixth annual Small Wind Conference, held this past June in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Nearly 400 small wind systems and business colleagues attended from across the United States, as well as Mexico, Canada, Europe, Japan, and South Korea.
A keynote address kicked off the two-day event, given by Larry Flowers, National Wind Technology Center Principal Project Leader at National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Guests then enjoyed networking opportunities and presentations covering relevant and timely topics for policy analysts, manufacturers, and installers.
The conference wrapped up in Pfiffner Park, on the beautiful Wisconsin Riverfront, at a barbeque sponsored by Bergey Windpower.
Small Wind Conference 2010 presentation highlights:
- Administrators of three state public-benefits programs explained what they look for in grant applications.
- Manufacturers gave updates on the status of their companies and products, including an in-depth look at midsized turbines (turbines above 100 kW and below 1000kW), a fast growing segment of community wind installations.
- Presentations for installers discussed climbing safety, what installers need in order to make their businesses sustainable, and a brainstorming session to help organize a working group to craft a best practices and standards document.
- National Standards, for both turbines and installers, was the subject of a panel discussion with representatives from the Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC), the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), and Underwriters Laboratories. Topics included certification, safety codes, turbine testing and results, wind resource measurement, and siting.
- Poster sessions included presentations on wind energy education, wind assessment techniques, turbine manufacturers, and regional small wind test centers at Department of Energy/NREL
Awards given during the conference recognized individual contributions, while also highlighting milestones, in the small wind field:
- Robert Preus, of XZERES Wind, was presented with the Wind Powering America Small Wind Advocate Award for his leadership and dedication in championing the US small wind turbine market, and particularly for his advocacy work to remove small wind barriers in Texas, Idaho, and Oregon.
- Dr. Robert Wills, PE, from Windmonitoring.com, was recognized along with Preus, for updating the National Electric Code to include comprehensive requirements for small wind turbines that will increase safety and validate the small wind industry.
- Lisa and Joe DiFrancisco, of North Coast Energy Systems in Pennsylvania, received the Small Wind Conference Installer of the Year Award for their work in advancing the interests of small wind in the eastern United States.
- Ken Starcher, of the Alternative Energy Institute in Texas, received The Small Wind Educator Award for his role in advocating for small wind technology and educating numerous university students, international interns, and consumers on small wind industry issues.
The annual conference is developed and coordinated by a Small Wind Conference Coordinating Committee. This year, it was supported by a record, 22 sponsors and 25 exhibitors. The seventh annual Small Wind Conference will take place on June 13 - 15 in Stevens Point at the Holiday Inn Conference Center.
According to a report released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), BlueGreen Alliance, and the United Steelworkers, the U.S. wind industry can create tens of thousands of additional jobs manufacturing wind turbines and components if the U.S. passes long-term policies that create a stable market for the domestic wind energy supply chain.
“Wind energy provides one of the most promising sources of new manufacturing jobs for American workers.”
— Rob Gramlich, AWEA Sr. VP
of Public Policy
Winds of Change: A Manufacturing Blueprint for the Wind Industry highlights growth for the American wind industry despite the absence of a long-term and stable market for wind energy, or policies to support wind's manufacturing sector. While the growth in wind energy manufacturing has been steady — growing from 2,500 workers in 2004 to 18,500 in 2009 — tens of thousands of additional jobs manufacturing wind turbines and components, such as towers, gearboxes, and bearings, could be created with policies that establish a long-term, stable market and support the manufacturing sector's transition to the wind industry.
“Wind energy provides one of the most promising sources of new manufacturing jobs for American workers,” said Rob Gramlich, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for AWEA. “This report shows how the right policies such as a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) will build the supply chain and create those jobs.”
“This report represents a major alignment between our goals for energy independence and creating the clean energy jobs of the future,” said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “With the right policies, clean energy will help revitalize American manufacturing. We must ensure that American manufacturers have the resources they need to build clean wind energy components and by doing so, help establish America as a global leader of clean energy technologies.”
“Moving to clean energy is just one piece of the puzzle — we need to ensure that America's clean energy economy is built by U.S. workers, and creates good manufacturing jobs,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers. “By including common-sense policies like a 25 percent Renewable Electricity Standard, and an extended Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, in comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, we can build a wind energy supply chain in the U.S.”
Along with the RES, specific policies aimed at building the wind manufacturing sector include extending and strengthening the Recovery Act's convertible tax credit program (1603), fully funding the Green Jobs Act, building a transmission grid infrastructure to meet the demand for clean energy and utilizing loan guarantee programs for commercial manufacturing of clean energy.
The report recommends passing Senator Sherrod Brown's IMPACT Act, which creates a state-level revolving loan fund to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers retool for clean energy markets and adopt energy efficient manufacturing. The report also recommends extending and strengthening the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit with specific incentives and accountability provisions to maximize domestic job creation, including giving highest priority to projects that manufacture clean energy component parts.
But Will the Growth Continue?
United States wind power capacity increased by over 10 gigawatts (GW) in 2009, 20% more than was added in 2008, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). That brings total U.S. capacity to over 35 GW, more than any other country on the planet, providing 1.8% of our national electric power. Similarly, the demand for small wind systems for residential and small business use (rated capacity of 100 kW or less) grew 15% in 2009, adding 20 MW of generating capacity to the nation.
—Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General
This is impressive as the largest single annual gain in U.S. wind energy capacity, but our nation still lags behind the pace of other countries in renewable energy expansion. Global wind power capacity increased by over 38 GW in 2009, an increase of 41% over 2008 according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
“Even in the face of a global recession and financial crisis, wind energy continues to be the technology of choice in many countries around the world,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General. “Wind power is clean, reliable and quick to install, so it is the most attractive solution for improving supply security, reducing CO2 emissions, and creating thousands of jobs in the process. All of these qualities are of key importance, even more so in times of economic uncertainty.”
China demonstrated a major commitment to renewable energy growth at a breathtaking pace, more than doubling it's wind capacity in 2009. According to the GWEC, China accounted for one third of the total annual wind capacity additions with 13.8 GW of new wind farms in 2009. This took China's total capacity up to 25.9 GW, narrowly overtaking Germany as the country with the second largest wind power capacity behind the U.S. The Chinese government has an unofficial target of 150 GW of wind capacity by 2020, and with the current growth rates, that ambitious target could be met well ahead of time.
Economic uncertainty was a major challenge in 2009, and the U.S. responded to the challenge through new leadership in both the White House and the U.S. Department of Energy, bringing new policies and incentives to the forefront for renewable energy development, including the extension and expansion of tax incentives along with stimulus dollars in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. But will this be enough to foster continued growth?
The forecast for U.S. wind capacity growth in coming years is not so clear. GWEC expects that the global installed wind capacity will reach 409 GW by 2014, growing by an average annual rate of 21%. Asia is expected to outpace both Europe and North America, with the U.S. and Canada as possible laggards in 2010 and 2011 due to legislative uncertainty.
“Our annual report documents an industry hard at work and on the verge of explosive growth if the right policies—including a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)—are put in place,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “A national RES will provide the long-term certainty that businesses need to invest tens of billions of dollars in new installations and manufacturing facilities which would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs.”
—Denise Bode, AWEA CEO
Clean energy and economic renewal are necessary partners for a sustainable future. It's time for U.S. policy-makers to determine how to make that more of a priority for our country. Many claim that Feed-In Tariff (FIT) policies, which have driven European renewable energy expansion with guaranteed grid access along with set prices on long-term contracts, just won't work in the U.S. However, the United States and Canada are the only major countries that don't even have federal policies for RES targets, which would drive incentives forward without the tight regulation of FIT. A patchwork of state-by-state (or province-by-province) RES targets doesn't present a clear national priority, and without that—clean energy expansion will lag along with the employment, environmental, and community benefits that come with it.
A new study answers a long-nagging question of whether property values will decline due to nearby wind energy development. The answer is no, according to a report released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy: "The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis."
"Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes,"
—Ben Hoen, report authorA overwhelming majority of Americans support wind farm projects over other types of new power sources that might be built in their community [U.S. Saint Index© survey]. However, concerns over property values can arise when residents learn of plans for nearby wind farm projects. While such concerns are not unreasonable, given property value effects that have been found near high voltage transmission lines, landfills, and other electric generation facilities; the impacts of wind energy facilities on nearby home sales had not previously been investigated thoroughly.
"Neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes," says report author Ben Hoen, a consultant to Berkeley Lab. "No matter how we looked at the data, the same result kept coming back - no evidence of widespread impacts."
The report concludes that there are no measurable impacts on residential property values due to the three characterizations studied:
- Area Stigma: A concern that the general area surrounding a wind energy facility will appear more developed, which may adversely affect home values in the local community regardless of whether any individual home has a view of the wind turbines.
- Scenic Vista Stigma: A concern that a home may be devalued because of the view of a wind energy facility, and the potential impact of that view on an otherwise scenic vista.
- Nuisance Stigma: A concern that factors that may occur in close proximity to wind turbines, such as sound and shadow flicker, will have a unique adverse influence on home values.
The team of researchers for the project collected data on almost 7,500 sales of single-family homes situated within 10 miles of 24 existing wind facilities in nine different U.S. states, and that occurred between 1996 and 2007; the closest home was 800 feet from a wind facility. The conclusions of the study are drawn from eight different hedonic pricing models, as well as both repeat sales and sales volume models. The hedonic pricing model is one of the most prominent and reliable methods for identifying the marginal impacts of different housing and community characteristics on residential property values.