Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wind Energy News Round-Up, June-July 2012

Report: China led rise in global clean-energy spending in Q2
Clean-energy investment worldwide climbed 24% to $59.6 billion in the second quarter, driven mainly by China, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. China's investment in the sector during the period rose sharply to $18.3 billion, up 92% from the previous quarter. "These figures underline the pivotal role China is playing in the clean energy sector," said BNEF CEO Michael Liebreich. Reuters (7/11)

Ming Yang, Huaneng Renewables team up for wind, solar projects
China Ming Yang Wind Power Group has struck a deal with Huaneng Renewables to jointly build wind and solar facilities in China and abroad. The partners aim to develop a total of 1 gigawatt of projects within the next three years, including a 100-megawatt wind farm this year. (tiered subscription model) (7/12)

Vale turns to renewable energy as power prices surge
Vale, the world's largest producer of iron ore, intends to build two wind farms and use palm oil in producing 420,000 tons of fuel in an attempt to protect its earnings from rising energy prices. "Our big challenge is to align sustainability with lower costs. We have an obligation to our shareholders to give results," said Giane Zimmer, the company's director of sustainable development. Bloomberg (7/9)

Saudi Aramco forms investment unit for renewables
Oil giant Saudi Aramco has created an investment unit to promote renewable energy and lessen Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil and natural gas for power generation. Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures will "help us more effectively engage with the global community of innovators and entrepreneurs who are increasingly important enablers of growth and value in our industry," said Saudi Aramco President and CEO Khalid Al Falih. The National (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) (7/9)

Manufacturers face drop in U.S. orders over PTC expiry fears
Wind-energy manufacturers are facing a sharp drop in domestic orders as the renewable-energy Production Tax Credit nears expiration, prompting Acciona Windpower to turn its attention to foreign markets to keep its U.S. factory open, while hoping that the PTC will get an extension. The partisan atmosphere of an election year means a vote on PTC's renewal is unlikely until after November, and even if the credit gets an extension by then, it might be too late to save projects in the pipeline for 2013, observers said. The Wall Street Journal (7/8)

Ship carrying U.S.-made turbine blades begins journey to Brazil
A ship carrying 60 wind turbine blades from LM Wind Power's Grand Forks, N.D., factory has left the Port of Duluth in Minnesota for a three-week journey to Brazil. The blades are destined for the Ceara II wind project in the city of Ceara, Brazil. Grand Forks Herald (N.D.) (6/29)

Chinese group to make wind-turbine towers in Canada
TSP Canada Towers, a unit of Shanghai Taisheng Wind Power Equipment, will initially invest $24.5 million to build a wind-turbine-tower factory in Ontario, Canada. The factory is expected to generate 150 jobs within its initial year of operations, and 100 more in its second phase. The facility is slated to go online later this year, said CEO Chris Xie. The Sun (Baltimore) (6/30)

Wal-Mart wants to deliver affordable renewable power
Wal-Mart plans to use its scale as leverage to deliver competitively priced renewable electricity to consumers, said Rahul Raj, director of sustainability and merchandising innovation at "A new energy future can contribute to everyday low costs and enable everyday low prices for our customers. In our minds, clean tech has arrived," Raj said. AOL Energy (6/29)

Wind industry urged to explore new financing structures
Executives at a renewable-energy conference in New York urged the industry to plan beyond the current tax credits and focus on new financing structures for projects. An extension of the Production Tax Credit is essential for wind power to achieve cost parity with fossil fuels, but funding a wind project without the PTC following a phase-down would cut a project's average weighted capital cost and lessen the pressure on the developer to reach a revenue target, First Wind CEO Paul Gaynor said. Platts/The Barrel blog (6/29)

Northeast has the best elements for offshore-wind growth, exec says
The first wind farms in U.S. waters will likely be developed off the coasts of New Jersey, New York City and southern New England because the areas have the elements needed to deliver competitively priced wind-generated electricity, said Deepwater Wind CEO William Moore during a forum in New York. The Northeast has major load centers, the highest electricity rates and the policies needed to support the industry's growth, Moore said. (tiered subscription model) (6/28)

Report: U.K.'s land-based wind-power output jumped 51% in Q1
The U.K.'s land-based wind-power production rose to 3.6 terawatt-hours in the first quarter, up 51% from the same period last year, according to the U.K.'s Department of Energy and Climate Change. Offshore-wind generation increased by 50% during the same period, while the percentage of renewable power in the country's electricity mix jumped to 11.1%, from 7.7% from a year ago, the agency said. Bloomberg Businessweek (6/28)

Wind-turbine-parts manufacturer to close Wis. factory in August
Wausaukee Composites, a manufacturer of composite plastic and fiberglass parts for wind turbines and other machines, will shut down its factory in Gillett, Wis., on Aug. 31, leading to 45 job losses, according to the state Department of Workforce Development. Some workers might still work at the factory for a short period after that date, the company said. Green Bay Press-Gazette (Wis.) (6/27)

Biden faults Romney for not backing renewable energy
In a speech in Dubuque, Iowa, Vice President Joe Biden criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for not supporting tax incentives for renewable energy. "You had our good friend Mitt Romney saying he dismissed wind and solar by saying they're 'two of the most ballyhooed forms of alternative energy.' Tell that to the 7,000 workers manufacturing wind power here in Iowa," Biden said. National Journal (6/27)

Renewables growth is changing Germany's energy market, group says
Germany may have to redesign its energy market because the rising supply of renewable energy is driving down costs while making fossil fuel-fired plants less profitable, according to research and investing firm Stadtwerke Leipzig. "Renewables have shifted the merit order and now it's like we have two different markets, one for renewables with 20 years' guaranteed [feed-in-tariff], and one competitive for conventional power plants," said Stadtwerke Leipzig's head of energy trading, Thorsten Korner. "We have to think about integrating renewables and how we will organize 80 percent renewables on the grid by 2050." Bloomberg Businessweek (6/26)

Vestas closes wind-turbine factory in China
Vestas Wind Systems is closing a wind-turbine factory in China, days after announcing plans to halt development of another plant in the U.K. because of weak demand. The closure of the Hohhot factory in China, which makes small kilowatt turbines, would lead to 300 to 350 job losses and generate about $12.48 million in annual savings for the company. Reuters (6/25)

Bode: Immediate extension of PTC will help save U.S. jobs
Congress should prioritize an extension of the renewable-energy Production Tax Credit to stem job losses in the wind-power manufacturing sector, writes Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. The PTC's strong bipartisan appeal means it can be passed quickly even in a highly partisan atmosphere, she writes. Uncertainty over the PTC creates a boom-and-bust cycle that is extremely disruptive to businesses, Bode adds. "Congress should act now to extend the PTC and avoid further harm to one of the country's most promising new energy options," Bode adds. National Journal/Energy Experts Blog (6/25)

Report: Bigger turbines have smaller manufacturing carbon footprints
Researchers from the Institute of Environmental Engineering in Zurich found that bigger wind turbines are better for the environment, according to a report in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Technological innovations are allowing manufacturers to build larger turbines with fewer materials and energy requirements, thereby reducing their carbon footprint, the report showed. United Press International (6/20)

Opinion: BP's wind energy projects small compared to oil, gas
BP spent $1.6 billion building U.S. wind farms in 2011, and it expects to generate total wind energy capacity of 1,955 megawatts this year. However, Forbes contributor David Ferris noted that the company seeks a slow ramp-up on renewable energy, with $1 billion per year expected to be added. Comparatively, BP also plans to allocate roughly $14 billion for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, one of its many projects. The company does not intend to be a major player in the North American wind sector but seeks to achieve scale, said Katrina Landis, CEO of BP's alternative energy unit. Forbes (6/14)

New NREL study highlights renewables' major role in power generation
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is expected today to publish a document on the possibility that renewable resources could account for 80% of the U.S. power supply by 2050. The analysis was requested by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under the Department of Energy, said NREL spokesman George Douglas. Platts (6/14)

Report: U.S. outpaced China in use of nonhydro renewables in 2011
The U.S. outpaced China in the use of nonhydro renewable power in 2011, according to a report from oil giant BP. U.S. consumption of nonhydro renewable energy last year grew by 6.4 million tons of oil equivalent, more than China's growth rate of 5.8 million tons of oil equivalent during the same period, the report said. Bloomberg Businessweek (6/13)

Siemens rolls out world's longest wind-turbine blade
Siemens has rolled out the world's longest fiberglass wind-turbine blade, roughly 246 feet tall and designed for the company's next-generation 6-megawatt turbines. The B75 Quantum blade possesses a unique aerofoil that gives it "tremendous strength at a low weight," Siemens said. A set of the blades will be attached to Siemens' second SWT-6.0 direct-drive prototype, which will be installed in Denmark. (tiered subscription model) (6/13)

Bode: South is becoming a hub for wind-energy manufacturing
The South is fast becoming a hub in the manufacturing supply chain for the U.S. wind-power industry, writes Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. The South is home to more than 90 factories of wind-turbine components, and last year alone, $200 million worth of such products were shipped through the Port of Savannah in Georgia, Bode notes. The progress made by wind-power manufacturers in the South, however, could be undone if Congress fails to renew the renewable-energy Production Tax Credit, Bode warns. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Atlanta Forward blog (6/12)

Report: Renewables manufacturing will be stronger after consolidation
The wind and solar-power manufacturing sector is undergoing growing pains similar to the one experienced by U.S. carmakers in the early 20th century, when weaker companies perished before the sector emerged stronger than ever, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "In 1903, the United States had over 500 car companies, most of which quickly fell by the wayside even as the automobile sector grew into an industrial juggernaut," said BNEF CEO Michael Liebreich. "A century ago, writing off the auto industry based on the failures of weaker firms would have been foolish." Bloomberg Businessweek (6/11)

Rate of global spending on renewables slowed in 2011, U.N. says
Global spending on renewable energy grew 17% in 2011 to $257 billion, down from the growth rate of 37% in 2010, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Program and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century. The slower growth "was achieved at a time of rapidly falling prices for renewable energy equipment and severe pressure on fiscal budgets in the developed world," the report said. The U.S. and China spent roughly the same amount in 2011 to develop renewable energy, at $51 billion and $52 billion, respectively, the report added. MarketWatch/The Tell blog (6/11)

U.S. is No. 7 in renewables among G-20 countries, NRDC says
U.S. renewable-energy production rose 300% in the past decade, but it is still lower than Europe and only slightly ahead of Mexico, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The U.S. obtained about 2.7% of its power from renewable sources in 2011, making it the seventh-highest among G-20 member countries, the report showed. Some non-G-20 countries such as Spain and New Zealand already get at least 15% of their power from renewable sources, the report said. United Press International (6/11)

U.K. wind power could reach cost parity with gas by 2016
The cost of wind-turbine installations will fall sharply over the next few years so that wind-generated power will cost the same as electricity from natural gas by 2016, according to projections by the London School of Economics' Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change. Ratepayers who are against land-based wind turbines should pay more because the only viable clean-energy options in the U.K. are costly solar arrays and offshore wind farms, the report said. "One can think of the extra cost of offshore wind as the premium society is willing to pay to avoid the local environmental cost of onshore wind," the institute said. The Telegraph (London) (6/11)

Vestas CEO: U.S. market could shrink by 80% in 2013 without PTC
The U.S. wind turbine market could shrink by as much as 80% next year if the renewable-energy Production Tax Credit is allowed to expire at the end of the year, said Vestas Wind Systems CEO Ditlev Engel at a gathering of EU officials in Denmark. The U.S. market is "very, very busy" this year, but because of "the potential lapse of the regulatory framework in the U.S., this market will probably go down 80 percent next year," Engel said. Vestas may have to cut 1,600 jobs from its U.S. operations if the PTC is not extended, Engel said. Orlando Sentinel (Fla.)/Reuters (6/10)

Developers complete construction of Mich.'s biggest wind farm
DTE Energy and Invenergy Wind have completed the construction of Michigan's biggest wind farm. The 212.8-megawatt Gratiot County Wind Project is expected to deliver enough power for more than 50,000 homes. The wind farm will supply power to DTE under a 20-year agreement. The Detroit News (6/6)

Report: Cheaper natural gas isn't bringing down power costs
Two out of three utility executives said that their average electricity rate rose over the past year despite the slumping price of natural gas, according to a survey by consulting firm Black & Veatch. Cost savings from lower gas prices aren't reflected in utility bills because fuel "is only a very small piece of what it costs to deliver electricity to the consumer," said Mark Gabriel, a Black & Veatch senior vice president. (6/5)


  1. Brazil, one of the globe's highest growing economies and the biggest energy market in South America is moving towards the sustainable growth of energy sector in future. In the light of its increasing energy (power) demands, the markets for other sources like natural gas, solar, wind energy are going to expand in addition to the growth of hydro power (energy), on which most of Brazil’s power depends. Over the coming few years there will be an increase in the inflow of cash for building new transmission and distribution lines and revamping the old ones, presenting a wide range of possibilities for technical and financial service providers. The Brazilian power section was privatized in 1997 but even after 15 years the govt has an upper hand, which along with many other factors, makes the investors wary.
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  2. Hi there! great stuff here, I'm glad that I drop by your page and found this very interesting. Thanks for posting about renewable energy tax credits. Hoping to read something like this in the future! Keep it up!

    The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was originally part of the Revenue Act of 1962. In subsequent legislation the ITC was modified to include incentives for renewable energy property. Currently, taxpayers can choose to use the ITC in lieu of the PTC for eligible property. To be considered eligible, most renewable source property must be placed in service by December 31, 2013. However, solar and geothermal property can be eligible if placed in service by December 31, 2016.

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