AWEA Liveblog Day 1

The first day of Windpower Monthly's blog from the AWEA Windpower 2012 conference in Atlanta, covering launches and events as it happens. If you're at the event, visit Windpower Monthly at stand 1563 Hall A.

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1610 hrs Eastern US time

At Windpower 2012, GE is celebrating 10 years in the wind industry. The US's largest turbine manufacturer organised a flash mob - they wore green t-shirts -- to perform a dance in one of the hallways. Vic Abate, the company's VP for renewables, afterwards noted wryly: "If you'd tried that in the nuclear business, I don't think you'd have gotten much participation. But in renewables, everyone joins in."

On a more serious note, Abate was asked about GE's future use of Chinese towers in the American market now that the US Department of Commerce has slapped duties of up to 26% on imports from China. "If the US tower factories made more towers, we'd never use Chinese towers," he told reporters. "US towers are cheaper 'at site' [for American projects] than Chinese towers."

GE turbines are using Chinese towers at the 845MW Shepherds Flat project in Oregon. The final components will be delivered soon to the site.

1500 hrs Eastern time

Responding to a question from a reporter with the China People's Daily, Governor Sam Brownback, a Republican and staunch supporter of the American wind power industry, said he was "delighted to see everyone here". He pointed out that many European wind companies are active in the US. The reporter had asked a panel of wind industry dignitaries what their views were of the significant representation of Chinese hardware on the exhibition floor, including manufacturers of wind turbines.

It makes economic sense to assemble wind turbines near where they will be deployed, added Gabriel Alonso, CEO of EDP Renewables, a division of Portuguese national utility EDP, now partly owned by China Three Gorges. 

1430 hrs Eastern US time

Showcasing the British wind market as a place for inward investment by Americans, the UK government revealed impressive investment figures -- £58 bn has been pencilled in for wind and £40 bn for nuclear. Although timelines were not discussed, the UK will clearly be getting more of its electricity from wind than nuclear.

1315 hrs Eastern US time

With uncertainty dogging the US market, it's no surprise that a session on wind supply, demand and cost post-2012 was packed. The take-away was that there's a case for optimism, with IHS-EER predicting turbine technology advances that will drive average capacity factors up from 31% in 2008-2011 to almost 40% by 2020. That would open up previoiusly uneconomic regions in America.

AWEA CEO Denise Bode says she is confident that Congress will pass a one-year extension, at least, of the PTC. It's just a matter of waiting for the appropriate legislative vehicle, she said. None of the other speakers outwardly disagreed. "It is time to begin the planning and take the next bold steps," Bode said.

1240 hrs Eastern US time

Latest consultants' market forecasts indicate that an average of 5-6GW a year of new capacity will be installed in the US through 2030, with major peaks and troughs because of the federal PTC.

1220 hrs Eastern US time

Suzlon's new low-wind turbine, the S111-2.1MW, will have fibreglass rather carbon-fibre blades. For IEC Class III winds, the turbine will come with a tower of 95 or 120 metres.

1115 hrs Eastern US time

Indian manufacturer Suzlon is right now announcing a new low-wind speed turbine, the S111-2.1MW with a rotor diameter of 111 metres. The turbine will be rolled out globally at a later date.

1015 hrs Eastern US time

First news of the day:

Suzlon Chairman Tulsi Tanti will make a major product announcement in an hour's time.

Samsung Wind Energy announces a joint venture with Texas developer Group NIRE for a 5MW demonstration project in Lubbock, Texas consisting of 2.3MW and 2.7MW turbines with permanent-magnet synchronous generators.

0930 hrs Eastern US time

Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, announced in her opening speech that Microsoft, HP and Sprint have all joined the Pass the PTC Coalition. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) is set to expire at the end of this year, causing great uncertainty in the US wind market.

0100 hrs Eastern US time

Ready for the launch of the world's largest annual wind industry event are 900 plus exhibitors, of which some 120 come from the southeastern US. The conference focus this year is on manufacturing and jobs in wind.

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