Power & Energy Solutions

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Words: Birgit NiesingThe wind is always more constant at sea than on land - and much stronger. That's why the wind energy industry is increasingly looking to offshore facilities. The first German wind farm in the North Sea - the ‘alpha ventus' test and demonstration site - went online just a few months ago. Researchers are monitoring its progress.45 kilometers north of Borkum, the climate is harsh. The wind speed averages 36 kilometers an hour (force five), the waves are several meters high, and the air is salty and damp. The area is now home to the first German offshore wind park, dubbed alpha ventus, which was completed a few months ago.Erecting offshore wind farms in the North Sea off the German coast presents planners, constructors and operators with enormous challenges, for not far from the coastline lies the protected Wadden Sea National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The farms cannot be built close inshore; instead, they have to be sited out to sea beyond the Friesian Islands, which stretch from Sylt to Borkum. This gives rise to certain disadvantages. Firstly, the generating turbines have to be built in water that is 20 to 40 meters deep - a

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In order to fight climate change, improve energy security, enhance Europe's competitiveness, and maintain our technological leadership, the European wind industry - together with the European Commission and Member States - has developed a 10-year research and development programme. PES brings you the exclusive highlights of this recently-published study.With a €6bn budget, approximately half of which will be provided by the industry, the so-called European Wind Initiative's objectives are:• To maintain Europe's technology leadership in both onshore and offshore wind power• To make onshore wind the most competitive energy source by 2020, with offshore following by 2030• To enable wind energy to supply 20 per cent of Europe'selectricity in 2020, 33 per cent in 2030, and 50 per cent in 2050.To achieve these objectives, the European Wind Initiative prioritises the following technology areas: new turbines and components, offshore technology, grid integration, resource assessment and spatial planning.Key activities in wind energy research are:• Improving the design and layout of wind farms• Increasing reliability, accessibility and efficiency of wind turbines• Optimising the maintenance, assembly and installation of offshore turbines and their substructures• Demonstrating large wind turbine prototypes and large, interconnected offshore wind farms• New methods of grid management to allow high levels

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High costs of welcoming Hungary to the foldThe time taken to connect wind farms to the grid, and the high costs of doing so, are the main barriers to wind energy development in Hungary, it has been revealed in Budapest at a workshop organised by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) and the Hungarian Wind Energy Association (HuWEA). Grid connection takes an average of 45 months in the country, and 10.6 per cent of total project costs are spent on getting it. However, the new government is promising new plans to help reach the 2020 targets."Costs and long lead times are not the only problem," said Jacopo Moccia, EWEA's Regulatory Affairs Adviser. "Insufficient grid capacity and an unstable decision making process for granting building permits are also deterring investors. Things must change if Hungary is to reach its 2020 renewable energy target, and that will not be possible without a substantial contribution from wind energy.""Hungary needs to reach 13 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and the new government is looking into how to exceed this target," Péter Olajos, State Secretary for Energy and Climate Policy in the Ministry of National Economy told the recent workshop. "Our aim is to

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A week ago, Statoil AS, Norway's largest energy company, revealed plans to build a demonstration site testing floating offshore wind turbines off the coast of Scotland. It's a move that rubber-stamps the industry's gradual shift to floating platforms, but is the technology up to the task. PES takes a look at the various engineering challenges.Statoil is also considering Norway and the US state of Maine to test the commercial potential of its "Hywind" project, and it aims to build three to five Hywind machines at the site, when selected. A 2.3-megawatt prototype 10 kilometres offshore at Karmoy in Norway has been working "beyond expectations" at waters 200 metres deep, using a Siemens AG turbine and floating technology provided by French company, Technip SA.The vision for large-scale offshore floating wind turbines was introduced by Professor William E. Heronemus at the University of Massachusetts in 1972, but it was not until the mid 1990s, after the commercial wind industry was well established, that the topic was taken up again by the mainstream research community. Current fixed-bottom technology has seen limited deployment to water depths of 20 m, but as the technology has advanced into deeper water, floating wind turbine platforms may be

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Recently a momentous event took place when the official ribbon was cut at Antarctica's largest wind farm. Located on Ross Island at New Zealand's Scott Base, the almost 1 MW facility is powered by three 333 kW Enercon wind turbines and will provide up to 11 per cent of the power needed by the base, which will cut down on diesel use by 120,000 gallons and reduce carbon dioxide output by 1,370 tons annually

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New energy generation constitutes a major investment, often to the value of hundreds of millions or potentially billions of Euros. And such spending results in widespread economic development, in the form of increased work opportunities, higher salaries, and new customers for local business. PES examines the greater impact of channelling wind farm investment into the local economy.Estimating the local economic development impacts allows decision-makers to incorporate economic development in their decision-making. And given an economic development impacts analysis, decision-makers are able to assess impacts based not only on the cost of energy but also on a project's ability to provide jobs and economic growth within a given constituency. Furthermore, understanding the drivers of economic development as it relates to new energy projects can allow policymakers to tailor local policy so that their economic development benefits are enhanced. The following outlines a breakdown of the inherent costs and the resulting impact on the local economic community.Land Landowner lease payments represent a sizable direct economic impact. Frequently in the order of Euro 3000/MW, these payments constitute millions for large-scale wind projects. In addition, they constitute a direct payment to rural landowners that on a per-acre basis is much greater than the gross

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So you thought Google was just a highly successful internet search engine? The company's energy arm recently signed a deal to buy 114 megawatts of energy from a wind farm in Iowa, marking the first deal done by the company's energy subsidiaryA Google spokesman said the company had signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with wind project developer NextEra Energy Resources. Google Energy will buy the bulk of the energy produced from the Story II Wind Energy Center in Iowa's Story and Hardin counties."Buying wind energy is part of Google's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and operate as a carbon-neutral company," said Google Senior Vice President of Operations Urs Hoelzle, in an internet blog post. The deal is significant in that it is the first done by Google Energy, a subsidiary created in December 2009. When news of Google Energy came out, there was much speculation as to why the company, which is active in renewable energy and efficiency, would want to operate a wholly-owned subsidiary. Typically, companies seeking to buy clean energy need to invest in on-site renewable energy, such as a solar array, or to buy renewable energy certificates, both of which Google has done. Renewable energy

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Although Europe is a vast, sprawling continent bursting with innovation, our Asian cousins are old hands at taking a sideways look at the world - as these ingenious turbines from Japan clearly illustrate. At the recent Yokohama Renewable Energy Exhibition, Japanese technology threw-up some exciting developments for the sector, including this revolutionary turbine system that could turn wind energy production on its head.At the end of 2009, the worldwide capacity of wind power generators stood at 159.2 gigawatts, generating 340 TWh per annum (equivalent to about 2% of worldwide electricity usage), according the World Wind Energy Association's annual report. Much of the potential increase in renewable energy around the world can come from wind but significant investments will need to be made, including in offshore wind farms.To cope with various social, meteorological and topographical situations, wind technology has developed much over the years. Notable steps are the growth in the size of rotors, allowing a higher volume of electricity to be generated; the installation of variable-speed turbines with rotors capable of handling increases and decreases in wind speed, thus mitigating power fluctuation and noise pollution; and construction of offshore floating turbines to harness consistent and strong winds, some of which

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