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AWEA Windpower 2013 - liveblog day 1

The first day of Windpower Monthly's blog from the AWEA WIndpower 2013 conference in Chicago, covering events as they happen. If you are at the conference, visit Windpower Monthly at stand 1211.

Chicago is the host of this year's AWEA Windpower conference
Chicago is the host of this year's AWEA Windpower conference

1800hrs Central US time

The end of the first day, a day that started with much-needed rousing speeches from two new AWEA leaders. Sessions and exhibition are not packed, but attendees seem cheerful and interested in the conference presentations. Looking forward to tomorrow's sessions, starting with the wind industry leaders panel and a discussion among some major US businesses - including Google, Walmart and Motorola - about the growing trend towards corporate purchases of wind.

1700hrs Central US time

French firm Alstom sees its recent deal to provide 3MW turbines to a 414MW project in Alberta, Canada as the start of its growth in the North American market. New US projects are likely to focus less on the traditional medium wind speed sites, with more class III lower wind sites being developed, said Andy Geissbuehler, vice president renewable power North America. With one nacelle design and three interchangeable blade options, its 3MW turbines are suitable for class II and III sites, he said. Geissbuehler sees partners as crucial in the move into the US market, and expects diversity in transmission and other energies to help conclude deals with utilities.

1500hrs Central US time 

PTC talk Asked what one support mechanism they would choose to propel the US wind industry forward, only 11% of delegates attending a policy session at the conference chose the production tax credit (PTC). Fifty per cent would prefer a price on carbon and 27% a national renewable energy standard.

Earlier in the day, Gabriel Alonso clarified that AWEA's top priority is to extend the PTC. 

But turbine manufacturer GE's only ask when it comes to a US wind energy policy is certainty, says Anne McEntee, the new vice-president of the company's renewable energy business. With the PTC again set to expire at the end of this year, McEntee says the industry is going to have to work on a proposal for continued policy support. "The number one goal is certainty, whatever it is."

1400hrs Central US time

GE is looking to boost its globalisation efforts as it faces a decline in installations of as much as 75% in its major market this year.  Anne McEntee, the new head of GE's wind business, expects 3-4GW of new capacity in the US in 2013 after a record 13GW year in 2012 in which GE led the market with more than 5GW installed. McEntee says the company is well positioned to make strides outside the US, with 60% of its orders last year coming from outside the country.  "We are going to continue to explore global opportunities where the economics make sense for our customers," she says.

1230hrs Central US time

More product launches at Windpower 2013.  Suzlon says its S97-2.1MW turbine has been upgraded to handle higher wind speeds. US manufacturer Northern Power Systems also announced it is introducing two new turbine models designed for low wind speed sites. The NPS60-23 and NPS100-24 are based on the same platform as its NPS100-21, but these capture more wind and have reduced noise output, says the company.

1200hrs Central US time

A poll of delegates attending a market update session found 27% expect the US to install 8-10GW over the next two years.  Another 20% see 10-12GW, while 16% expect less than 8GW.  Market analysts are forecasting a similar range, but expect only 2-3GW of the total to come online in 2013.

1030hrs Central US time

Talking further about his first key pillar, to strengthen AWEA, Gabriel Alonso said that they need to use all the advantages that the organisation already has. We need to understand what AWEA has to
offer." He referred specifically to the annual conference, to effective advocacy, and to data. He aims to improve and increase the data and analysis, and help members share best practice to help everyone to mature, not just the large companies. "It's time to go to the next level," he said.

1000hrs Central US time

Wind energy in the US will have trouble competing without the $ 0.023/kWh production tax even with recent capacity factor improvements, says Andy Lubershane of IHS Emerging Energy Research, at a session lookiing at future growth, supply and demand of wind energy. But wind doesn't"t need the full value of the incentive in order to find buyers, he says. It can compete with about half that in strong wind regions. Next door, EDF Renewables' Gabriel Alonso was talking about how technology has improved net capacity on the US projects that he has been involved in. From 11 years ago when the Mendoza Hills project achieved 26% net capacity to a recent 400MW project that has achieved 32% and a very recent one that is recording 35%

0930hrs Central US time

Tom Kiernan, who takes over as AWEA CEO May 28, picked up on the theme of long-term planning and industry unity. A long-term plan will put what Kiernan called "an industry in flux" on the path to sustained growth, as long as it is backed by stronger advocacy efforts to overcome a tough political environment and the well-organised and well-funded adversaries. The PTC, added Kiernan, "needs to continue to be" a policy mechanism available to the industry.

0900hrs Central US time

We must build 8000MW new capacity  every year, says new chair of the board of The American Wind Energy Association. Gabriel Alonso's first speech to the US wind industry outlined five key strategies for the next year, including:
1) to strengthen AWEA
2) developing a proactive communications plan
3) setting a long term, clear goal
4) industry unity, and
5) mobilising wind energy supporters.
He talked of finding the 70-75% Americans who want wind, to help counter wind detractors. We have an army of people out there. "The power of many can outweigh the power of money."

0800hrs Central US time

GE has booked 1GW of new wind turbine orders since the production tax credit was extended in January, the company announced today. At the same time it introduced its new 1.7-100m low-wind speed turbine to the US market.

Spanish turbine maker Gamesa also unveiled its new G114-2.5MW turbine.  The turbine for Class II medium wind speeds is an upgrade of its 2MW model and, says the company, increases energy production by 29% and lowers the cost of energy by 10%

0100hrs Central US time

On the eve of the major American Wind Energy Association event, the buzz has already started. While numbers are expected to be lower than recent years, those here began networking at the evening reception in Chicago's world-class McCormick place conference centre.

Monday kicks off with the Chicago Mayor opening proceedings, and delegates will be looking to Terry Branstad, Governor of wind-friendly Iowa state, and new CEO of AWEA Tom Kiernan to set a positive tone to the event.

 

On the eve of the major American Wind Energy Association event, the buzz has already started. While numbers are expected to be lower than recent years, those here began networking at the evening reception in Chicago's world-class McCormick place conference centre.

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