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United States

AWEA 2019: 'A rising tide raises all ships'

The wind industry in the US needs to adapt to the growth of solar and storage, and with that, needs a change in the conversation, business leaders said as the American Wind Energy Association's Windpower 2019 begins in Houston.

AWEA Windpower 2019 -- titled Wind+ -- recognises the growing role storage and solar play within the wind industry
AWEA Windpower 2019 -- titled Wind+ -- recognises the growing role storage and solar play within the wind industry

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Welcoming delegates in the opening conference session, AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said the trade body is seeing greater synergies between the technologies.

"We hear from you that you do as much solar business [at the AWEA events] as wind business," Kiernan, told the audience.

It is because of this, Kiernan announced the 2020 conference and exhibition in Colorado will be called "Cleanpower", reflecting the greater role storage and solar power is playing in relation to wind power and on the US grid.

Incoming AWEA chair Rob Caldwell, president of renewables and distributed energy resources at Duke Energy, said the lobby group was shifting to stay ahead of changes in the market.

"What we're trying to do is make sure AWEA is set up to grow the wind business, but we have to do that in the context of everything going on. A rising tide raises all ships," said Caldwell. 

Kiernan added: "We’ve got a tremendous amount of work to address some of those challenges and to build a policy environment for wind, solar and storage to thrive."

Political shift

As well as a shift in the market dynamics, with a growing need and desire for wind plus storage and-or solar, there is also shift in the political dialogue.

"It’s good we can finally say ‘carbon tax’ out loud in Washington," said outgoing AWEA chair Steve Lockard, CEO of blade manufacturer TPI Composites.

"We feel like the conversation has shifted. It has opened up the chance to have the policy discussion [at a federal level]. It doesn't mean it will happen quickly but we can at least talk about it," Lockard added.

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