Wind backs words with deeds

This issue falls between two of wind power's biggest events of the year -- the American Wind Energy Association's conference in Anaheim, Los Angeles, and WindEurope's offshore showcase in London.

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There was a distinctly defiant mood at Anaheim, the tone set by AWEA chairman Tom Kiernan and California senate leader Kevin de Léon in the opening address.

The "fossil-fuel fetishism" of the Trump government was attacked with the argument that wind was already doing the things that Trump had campaigned for: providing industrial jobs in the Rust Belt, ensuring reliable income for rural landowners, employing veterans in high numbers, growing rapidly. And it was managing all this while producing clean energy at competitive costs.

The fighting talk is being backed up with some smart action, too. Goldwind America’s initiative to offer free wind- technician training to coal miners in Wyoming is a good example (p20).

Thinking big

Europe’s offshore wind sector faces different challenges, largely focused on costs. Technology provides a big part of the answer, and the industry is responding with large product launches at the WindEurope event.

Windpower Monthly had exclusive access for an in-depth look at two of those developments: the MHI Vestas V164-9.5MW (p8), and aerodyn engineering’s 15MW SCDnezzy2.

They could hardly be more different. The MHI Vestas offering is an upgrade of a turbine that has just started its commercial operating life at the UK Burbo Bank Extension. It is available for order now, and can confidently be expected to be used for projects that go online from 2020.

The SCDnezzy2 is a much more radical glimpse of the offshore wind future — a twin-rotor, two-bladed turbine on a floating platform. It is still very much at the concept stage, with a 1:36 scale model expected to start testing later this summer. Utility-scale deployment is probably at least ten years away, even assuming successful testing and financial backing.

Competition is vital in pushing technological progress, so it is reassuring to see Senvion has joined Siemens in confirming that it is working on a 10MW-plus turbine.

Will developers be able to look to GE for another option? The 6MW Haliade turbine has kicked off the US’s offshore sector and has a substantial order book. But it is outgunned by the opposition. While GE executives at the AWEA show declined to elaborate on future products, they made it quite clear the firm would be responding. The 10MW-plus market is fast approaching.

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