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United States

AWEA 2018: Carbon is still king

UNITED STATES: At the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) Windpower 2018 conference in Chicago (7-10 May), outgoing chair and EDF Renewables CEO Tristan Grimbert said carbon policy remains king.

AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan addresses delegates at Windpower 2018
AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan addresses delegates at Windpower 2018

Speaking to delegates at the opening general session, Grimbert said: "On the wind-power chess board, carbon is king in policy."

Continuing the Chess analogy, Grimbert added that carbon policy "It is the most powerful but also most vulnerable."

Prior to the session, Make Consulting's Dan Shreeve alluded to a potential carbon tax should a new government administration take office in 2020. 

Elsewhere in the opening session, AWEA's new chair, Steve Lockard said investors were surprised at how fast the cost of wind-power has come down.

He also said the phase-out of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) is working as designed, giving the industry a long-term vision, and the "stability and time to work on the improvements we need to make". 

Finally, Tom Kiernan, AWEA CEO, used a long baseball metaphor, arguing that the PTC was a "home run" but now the industry needs to make "singles and doubles, rather than slugging for home runs" to keep the momentum going after the PTC ends in 2021.

"We need a really deep bench. We need a really strong team. We’ve got the bases loaded. What we need is singles and doubles," Kiernan told Windpower 2018. 

Gregory Wolf, the CEO of Leeward Renewable Energy, took to the stage wearing a chef’s apron to tell the crowd of the potential of repowering, and the "ingredients" needed for a successful project. A project of proven-quality, an offtake partner for the increased capacity, a successful OEM, sufficient tax equity for the project and the necessary approvals in place, are all essential, he said.

Vineyard Wind, a joint venture of Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, was one of three offshore wind developers to submit projects in Massachusetts’ RFP in December. Avangrid Renewables’ CEO Laura Beane told the conference’s opening session that offshore wind could overcome some of the transmission congestion issues that affect onshore projects, by "injecting abundant amounts of energy directly into the heart of these large load centres".

She added: "Offshore wind is not new. It is a tested, proven technology.

"Levelised cost of energy has steeply declined in this market and new technology will ensure this downward trend continues here."

Meanwhile, CEO of Siemens Gamesa’s global service business unit Mark Albenze briefly told the crowd of the benefits digitalisation could bring to the wind power industry.

"Wind turbines were born in the digital age," he explained.

"We have been shipping digital turbines for 20 years and they have a tremendous amount of data."

He added: "The key is to use that data for actionable results.

"With more knowledge and understanding we can plan better and execute better and we need less people at the site."

Using that data effectively would maximise safety, drive costs down, increase revenues for the customer, and help with operational risks, Albenze explained.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is holding its Windpower 2018 conference and exhibition in Chicago (7-10 May). Windpower Monthly will bring all of the coverage from the show across the week. www.windpowermonthly.com/awea-2018 

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