Power & Energy Solutions

The premier renewable energy publication

The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) convenes international multi-stakeholder leadership to enable a rapid global transition to renewable energy. It promotes appropriate policies that increase the wise use of such energies in developing and industrialized economies, and its Chairman, Mohamed El-Ashry, has worked tirelessly to promote its successes and strengthen the rapid global expansion. So who better to kick-off the issue with an overview of the past 12 months, and look to the future?Since just a year ago, the world has seen many significant developments that have had an impact - both direct and indirect - on renewable energy. The global economic recession entered a new phase in 2010, marked by massive public finance crises - felt most acutely in Europe - that led several governments to announce incentive cuts for solar energy. Natural gas prices remained low due to advances in technology for extracting gas from shale rock, temporarily reducing the competitiveness of renewable energy.At the same time, worldwide developments have highlighted the security, economic, and human costs of relying so heavily on fossil and nuclear energy. The three-month long BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused extensive damage

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After a relatively slow year in 2010, figures for the first half of this year show wind energy returning to growth. Strong political support from both parties, as well as increasing awareness within communities of the economic benefits of wind power developments, will hopefully make 2011 a strong year for wind energy. However, the impending renewal of the production and investment tax credit schemes has some in the industry concerned that a potential delay could damage and disrupt progress."It is important to have consistency in policy to support the continued development of wind manufacturing in the United States. Extending the production tax credit and the investment tax credit, without a gap, is critical to the health of wind manufacturing in our nation. The wind manufacturing industry in the U.S. would benefit even greater if the extension of these credits would be for at least seven years."Joint letter from both Republican and Democrat party candidates urging the President to focus on wind energy development. "The hardship on the industry is this sort of stop-start policy. If you look back it's always been extended, but the timing can really impact things."Lisa Frantzis, managing director for renewable and distributed energy at consultant

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US wind energy continued to rebound in the second quarter of 2011, with 2,151 megawatts (MW) of electrical generating capacity installed in the first half of 2011 versus 1,250 MW during the same time in 2010, up 72 percent.However, analysts at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) cautioned that without stable policy such as an extension of the Production Tax Credit, set to expire in 2012, the industry's recovery will stall.Project activity and orders for 2013 and beyond are scant because of the lack of a predictable business environment, causing layoffs and even bankruptcies in American manufacturing plants and the supply chain, said AWEA. These struggles for US wind manufacturers will only worsen if Congress were to allow the tax credit to expire.Ironically, due to the Production Tax Credit and market stability over the past five years, domestic content in the US industry reached a record high of 60 percent through 2010, according to a recent Department of Energy report."Clearly Congress cannot take for granted all the wind energy manufacturing and construction jobs that have been a bright spot through the recession," said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA.However, she added, "Wind tax credits enjoy broad bipartisan support, and since

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It seems incredible, but the DOE's Wind Program has now worked with industry and other partners for more than 30 years to advance both large and small wind energy technologies. PES takes a look at how the sector can grow yet further, to secure a larger market in the face of increased renewables competition.For large wind technologies, industry partnerships have successfully improved the performance of wind turbines while dramatically reducing costs. Advances in small wind technology have produced quieter, more reliable systems that are easier to install and cost less to operate. Many technologies developed with the support of the program have moved into the marketplace to become commercial successes. In addition to helping industry advance wind technologies, the Wind Program has worked to increase public and utility acceptance of wind energy by developing methodologies to reliably integrate wind energy into our nation's infrastructure and provide accurate up-to-date information.Although wind technology and the wind industry have come a long way, generating 20 per cent of the nation's electricity from wind energy by 2030 will require comprehensive research and development to address a broad spectrum of challenges. Wind turbines need to become more reliable, capture more energy, and cost less

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The Department of Energy's annual market report is hotly anticipated, filled as it is with all the sector's essential data from the last 12 months. We're pleased to be able to offer a critical overview of all the salient points from this recently-published whitepaper.The US wind power industry experienced a trying year in 2010, with a significant reduction in new builds compared to both 2008 and 2009.The delayed impact of the global financial crisis, relatively low natural gas and wholesale electricity prices, and slumping overall demand for energy countered the ongoing availability of existing federal and state incentives for wind energy deployment.The fact that these same drivers did not impact capacity additions in 2009 can be explained, in part, by the "inertia" in capital-intensive infrastructure investments: 2009 capacity additions were largely determined by decisions made prior to the economy-wide financial crisis that was at its peak in late 2008 and early 2009, whereas decisions on 2010 capacity additions were often made at the height of the financial crisis.Cumulative wind power capacity still grew by a healthy 15 per cent in 2010, however, and most expectations are for moderately higher wind power

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Offshore wind energy can help the nation reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, diversify its energy supply, provide cost-competitive electricity to key coastal regions, and stimulate revitalization of key sectors of the economy. However, if the nation is to realize these benefits, key challenges to the development and deployment of offshore wind technology must be overcome, including the relatively high cost of energy, technical challenges surrounding installation and grid interconnection, and the permitting challenges governing deployment in both federal and state waters. PES takes a look at the state of the nation's offshore ambitions.In Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy instituted the Offshore Wind Innovation and Demonstration (OSWInD) initiative to consolidate and expand its efforts to promote and accelerate responsible commercial offshore wind development in the U.S. A National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Energy Industry in the United States is an action document that amplifies and draws conclusions from a companion report, Large-Scale Offshore Wind Energy for the United States (W. Musial 2010).The National Offshore Wind Strategy will guide DOE's OSWInD initiative to support the development of a world-class offshore wind industry in the United States able to achieve

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The wind energy sector in Ontario will generate a significant amount of both electricity and economic activity over the course of 2011 through 2018. Specifically, during this timeframe, the sector is expected to: install over 5.6 GW of wind energy capacity, bringing Ontario's total wind energy capacity to 7.1 GW by 2018; create 80,328 job years; and attract $16.4billion of private investments.It's a heady cocktail of success that any North American region would like to replicate. We crunch the numbers

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With an economy struggling out of recession, and uncertainty over energy policy, securing investment in renewables has never been more important to the future of the industry. PES takes a look at current state of energy investment, and how wind is leading the race to secure funding for new projects.Renewable energies are expanding both in terms of investment, projects and geographical spread. In doing so, they are making an increasing contribution to combating climate change, countering energy poverty and energy insecurity, stimulating green jobs and meeting the Millennium Development Goals.In investment among the developed economies, the US was a big winner, with financial new investment in renewables jumping from just under $16 billion to just over $25billion. As in China, the big feature was asset financing of wind, which totalled $14.9 billion, as debt market conditions stabilised after the financial crisis.Renewable energy is still regarded as a modest-sized niche by some investors, media commentators and politicians. That view has it that the "serious" investment activity still goes on in conventional energy sectors such as oil and gas, coal and - prior to the Fukushima crisis in March 2011 - nuclear, and that renewables are an entertaining, albeit expensive, sideshow.This perception

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The new Siemens Wind Power Division headquartered in Hamburg will start operations on October 1. "Hamburg is a highly attractive location and at the same time one of the world's most important wind power centers. For that reason we will in the future be running our fast-growing wind power business from this city," said Michael Suess, member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG and CEO of Siemens Energy. "With our new organizational setup we'll have a stronger regional alignment and greater customer intimacy. They are key prerequisites to continuing the success story of our wind power business in the future, too. Our starting position for that is very good: We can build on a record order backlog totaling almost 11 billion euros and, in offshore wind power plants, the fastest growing market sector, we're world market leader." In Germany alone, Siemens has already secured orders for six offshore wind power plants in the North and Baltic Sea with a combined capacity of 1300 megawatts (MW). It is anticipated that the work force of Siemens Wind Power in Hamburg will triple from the current 170 to over 500 by 2013. Worldwide Siemens has a work force of approximately 7800 in

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