The Windpower '95 exhibition was far smaller than at wind events in Europe and rather squashed into the background of the conference, held in the venerable but slightly worn Omni Sheraton. One turbine, a Danish Micon 600 kW made in the US, was shipped in -- symbolic of the current trend in European companies entering the Midwest market, the only bright area for wind in the country these days. Although the turbine was virtually hidden out back, it was still the first of a larger generation of machines to be made in the US, in this case by Hutchinson Manufacturing, in partnership with Micon. A total of 19 companies, from the US, Denmark, Germany, England, Japan and the Netherlands exhibited in total.
Another European company has entered the Midwest market. LM Glasfiber of Denmark has entered a strategic alliance with Phoenix Industries of Crookston, Minnesota, the two companies announced at Windpower '95. LM blades -- starting with the 9.1 metre -- will be made in Minnesota for the US and Canadian markets, said Anders Christensen, LM's marketing director. He cited transportation costs and the exchange rate as reasons for the alliance. The technology will be transferred during the summer, with the first order for supply of blades to a 10-20 MW plant later this year in the US. Phoenix, which has ten years in glass fibre/polyester production, including blades for wind turbines, currently makes 8-9 metre blades.
Wyoming 70 MW suspended
Work on a 70.5 MW wind plant in Wyoming, to consist of Kenetech KVS-33 machines has been suspended following news that Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) might withdraw from its agreement to buy 25 MW of the power produced, said Fred Keast of PacifiCorp at Windpower '95. BPA had announced it might axe its interest in four renewables projects, including the wind farm, because of overall budget cuts. "It would have a fairly major impactÉit's possible the project would have to be changed," added Keast. It might not now make the planned June 1996 completion date. Engineering work, sub-station work and acquisition of turbines have been suspended. Later he said that if the project is cut to 45 MW, it might not be cost-effective as it would still require a costly 29 mile transmission line. Other parties might step forward to buy more power, but nothing was certain, he added. A final decision from BPA is expected in May or June. In the meantime a rescue plan is apparently being put together, according to Senator Mark Hatfield. At the conference he said he is involved in a bill that would re-finance the federal agency.
First 500 kW
A 500-41 Nordtank wind turbine will be installed in Pacheco Pass -- south-east of San Francisco in California -- probably in early May in partnership with International Turbine Research, said Nordtank's Theo de Wolff. It will be the first 500 kW Nordtank in the United States.
Extreme weather had an extreme impact on two Kenetech turbines when they were installed in New England, said Green Mountain Power's John Zimmerman at Windpower '95. The Model 56-100 units, operated by the utility at an elevation of 3300 feet, were quietly dismantled last autumn. In the frigid New England winters, icing could halt the turbines for several weeks at a time, added Zimmerman, although painting the rotors black helped. Icing cost an estimated 6-10% annually at the Mount Equinox site. He said tubular towers appeared to allow better access during the winter. On two occasions, during other times of the year, lightning split apart blades on the turbines because vapour inside them rapidly expanded., said Zimmerman.
Mickey Craig, renewables director at Westinghouse Electric Corp, said the giant company is already reviewing storage options for use with wind power, and expects to have fly-wheel storage next year and, sometime in the future, chemical batteries and compressed air storage as an option.
Informing the public
At least some utility wind plant operators are apparently keen for the public to get acquainted with the new technology. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District's Paul Olmstead said at Windpower '95 that the utility is considering a viewing spot for the wind farm and a wind surfing park if the second phase of the project goes ahead, which he thinks will happen. John Zimmerman, consultant to Green Mountain Power of Vermont, said the utility wants to install a turn-off for cars on the state highway three-quarters of a mile from its planned project at Searsburg. And from Texas, Ward Marshall of Central and Southwest Services Inc (CSW) said the utility intends to promote the cleanliness of wind at its demonstration project, encouraging visitors and teachers to tour the renewables demonstration project. CSW's Deb Lewis added that because of pollution from the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez area on the border with Mexico, visibility from a wind farm being developed by the Lower Colorado River Authority, has been reduced from 120 miles to just three or four miles. She would like to see this fact incorporated into information for visitors to the plant.
A 30 mile transmission line for a wind plant being developed by Kenetech for the Lower Colorado River Authority is costing $6 million, about $0.01/kWh, said the utility's Deb Lewis. The saving under the utility's Integrated Resource Plan is $12 million -- but would be $28 million if external costs were considered, such as pollution. Ward Marshall of Central and Southwest Services Inc (CSW), also of Texas, said that towers will have been erected in its project of Zond Z-40 turbines from California by mid April and that the plant should be operating by July.
Pleased with deregulation
One segment of the US market that is expected to explode under deregulation is the small turbine market. Michael Bergey said his company expected sales of its 10 kW machines, as well as other small turbines, to increase by more than 25% in the US in 1995. Focusing on choices for power supply will help the small turbine market in the US as well as abroad, said Bergey.