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AWEA Windpower 2015 - Day One

UNITED STATES: US energy secretary calls for expansion of wind's footprint across the US, Siemens unveils low-wind 2.3MW turbine, and GE launches wind farm design and management product for 20% better power output.

US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (pic: Idaho National Lab)
US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (pic: Idaho National Lab)

Dr Ernest Moniz, US energy secretary, said that wind is a necessary part of the solution to climate change. "We are counting on you being a huge part of the solution," the pro-nuclear energy secretary told the audience at the opening session of AWEA Windpower 2015, in Orlando, Florida.

It was only the second time that the US's top energy official has attended the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)'s conference.

Moniz spoke of the need to expand wind's footprint in America - to areas where it is not yet cost-effective - using "near-term pay-offs" such as higher hub heights, longer blades, improved drive-trains and better siting.

Wind could provide five-fold what it provides today, or a goal of one trillion kWh/year in America, he said. "It might take us a decade or a bit more to get there," he added.

American wind power will be rebranded, said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, also at the opening session.

Kiernan told the packed event that wind is now bipartisan, mainstream, reliable and affordable. "We are no longer a niche alternative fuel industry," he said.

Wind power should also build "political respect" by lauding political supporters – and also by chastising opponents publicly, Kiernan added. "We need to make sure they are not re-elected," Kiernan said to robust applause.

Low-wind turbine

Later in the day, Siemens Wind Power unveiled the SWT 2.3-120 turbine, which it says extends the reach of its successful G2 turbine platform with a notable 10% increase in annual energy production.  It is designed for the US market.

Target areas include those with lower wind speeds – class II winds – and also areas with class III winds and where turbulence is more common, a hallmark of the US wind regime.

It is available in low-temperature and high-temperature packages, with hub height options of 80 metres or 92.4 metres. Wind swept area is 11,310 metres squared.

Serial production of the US-designed turbine – which Siemens says is quiet – will start in 2017. The nacelles will be assembled at Siemens’ facility in Hutchinson, Kansas and the aero-elastic tailored blades at its facility in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Digital enhancement

GE has launched its "Digital Wind Farm", a programme that uses holograms to simulate the wind project so that design and operation can be enhanced and problems can be resolved most effectively. 

A completed project can produce up to 20% more power annually compared with GE’s existing technology, said the company’s head of renewables, Anne McEntee.

"This is the future of wind technology," she told Windpower Monthly. "We need to start thinking of our solution at the wind farm level rather than optimising the turbine alone."

In other GE news, the company has started shipping a 139m version of its space frame tower in Germany. The lattice tower, with an architectural fabric, uses 50% less steel and can be shipped in standard containers.

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