"Add on the 300 MW we did last year and that gets us to the one thousand that we've said publicly is where we think we'll get to by the end of this year in the US," he says. The global energy company's unit in Houston has already brought 210 MW online in Texas this year in two projects. BP teamed with wholesale power company NRG Energy of Princeton, New Jersey, to erect 50 Vestas turbines for the first phase of Sherbino, a 150 MW west Texas development, while Silver Star, a 60 MW joint venture with Clipper, recently connected 24 of the turbine maker's 2.5 MW Liberty machines southwest of Dallas.
In Indiana, the first phase of Fowler Ridge will bring 400 MW online by year end, using 182 Vestas 1.65 MW turbines and 40 Liberty machines. In Kansas, Flat Ridge, a 100 MW development under a 50-50 ownership arrangement with in-state utility Westar, will connect 40 Liberty turbines in December. And Edom Hills, a repowering project in California's San Gorgonio Pass, will replace 139 Windmatic machines with eight Clipper 2.5 MW turbines, increasing the output from 11 MW to 20 MW.
BP began 2008 by announcing commercial operation of the final 20 MW of Cedar Creek, Colorado, a 300.5 MW joint effort with investor Babcock & Brown that brought its first 280.5 MW online in November 2007. Meanwhile, after acquiring a pair of developers last year, Orion and Greenlight, the company is on track to build another 700-800 MW in 2009, with that much or more in 2010 and beyond.
Lukefahr, optimistic about the future for his company and the US industry as a whole, is satisfied with turbine availability in spite of rising prices. "The supply chain is strained on every dimension," he says. "But the industry has met this historic, unprecedented demand without a hiccup so far and we're getting all the turbines that we need. They're more expensive than we'd like, but they've always been more expensive than we'd like."
On the topic of America's chronically inadequate electricity transmission network, Lukefahr believes the US Department of Energy's recent report on how wind power can supply 20% of US electricity by 2030, roughly 300 GW, is hugely helpful. "The real message is that it's achievable, it's affordable, we know how to do it and we can get to the kind of vision that, frankly, until six months ago, most people would have said is unrealistic," Lukefahr says. "But today we've got a technical report that says it is realistic. And not only is it realistic, it's affordable. So now it's a matter of getting to a set of regional and national transmission solutions that bring this to reality."
As for the 5 GW Titan project, Lukefahr says that while there is a chance for a first phase to be built next year, 2010 is more likely. But the project needs power purchase agreements and many miles of transmission lines to bring output to load centres such as Chicago and Minneapolis. At bites of 400-500 MW a year, Lukefahr compares the scope of the project to the Alaska Pipeline and admits that completion is probably more than a decade away.
"But as we look out to the next decade of wind development, projects like Titan will become an incredibly important piece of the wind development process," he says. "We think of this as the kind of next-generation project that's going to be important not only in our own portfolio but also important in the industry. The scale is needed to get to 20%."