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The stimulus saved the US wind industry in 2009

by Jerome a Paris Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 10:09:06 AM EST

The good news just came this morning: the US wind industry shattered all records in 2009, coming within a whisper of installing 10 GW (10,000 MW) in the year, up 18% from what was already a record year. Total installed capacity went up from 25 GW from 35 GW, i.e. up 40% With similarly strong numbers expected out of China, and Europe's soon-to-be-announced but expected-to-be-decent numbers (with strong news on the offshore front), this is really upbeat news - and it is relevant to Europe as a large chunk of turbine manufacturing globally is still done in Europe, and volatile US demand has made life difficult for turbine manufacturers in the past.

And this was really unexpected. Some of you might remember that I wrote a diary last year titled: "Wind power set to decline under Obama?" I was worried, like many others, that the industry would suffer massively from the financial crisis, dependent as it was on long term loans and tax equity structures provided by banks like Lehmann Brothers, and that new installations would collapse from the lack of funds.

Thankfully, I was wrong.


While the first half of the year was really tough, something made a difference: the stimulus plan, and specific support mechanisms focused on the wind industry. The collapse of the US investment banks had destroyed overnight one of the main sources of funding for the industry: tax investors, who were willing to pay upfront the PTC (production tax credits) allocated by the federal government for each kWh of wind energy produced over 10 years. With their huge losses, the previous players no longer had any way to claim tax credits The government smartly offered an equivalent support tool in the shape of grants, for roughly the same amount as the PTCs represented (30% of project costs), but paid in full upon first production of electricity by the project.

These grants, along with other State-based mechanisms, have allowed the industry to not collapse, and indeed keep on growing. And, as the AWEA (the industry group in the US) notes, the local content of US wind projects has reached 50% last year, compared to 25% in 2004, which represents 85,000 jobs, the majority of which will not be offshore-able (operations and maintenance cannot, by definition, be done anywhere else; the manufacturing of many parts, in what is a heavy industry, is best done, for logistical reasons, near the sites of erection of the projects). Of course, the rest of the content largely comes from Europe, so the health of that market is a good thing for Europe's manufacturers and their employees...

So count me as surprised - but nevertheless really happy to have been proven wrong in this case.

On a political level, I guess one should note that the stimulus represents the largest ever boost for green energy in US public policy, despite being a very small part of the package. Just like cash-for clunkers and the bailout of the car manufacturers were a small part of TARP but one of the most effective tools to avoid a complete catastrophe during the collapse last year Given the effectiveness of such measures (which come as close as one can get to "industrial policy" in the US, it is a pity that (i) it took economic collapse to implement them and (ii) that so little of the money spent went to such purposes. While I certainly wouldn't put the rest of the stimulus in the same wasteful category as the rest of the TARP and all the other support schemes for the financial world, one wonders what could have been done with a stimulus package focused on green energy and the associated building (or re-building) of infrastructure on a continent-wide scale.

But it's not too late to push for such a focused effort, and there are overwhelming arguments for it: jobs, obviously, but also national security (less need to import fuel to produce electricity) and even electricity prices: wind power actually brings them down. And of course, preparing the grid for future needs, such as the integration of large numbers of plug-in cars. And the same arguments naturally apply in Europe as well, especially given our even bigger dependence on imported fuels for power generation...

And, best of all, it would build on an obvious, unimpeachable success which can be fully claimed and owned by Obama administration.

Display:
What seems remarkable about these numbers is how quickly the US economy has been able to respond to the Stimulus given the huge project finance, production and logistical lead times that are required to get such projects off the ground.  Presumably there was some element of anticipating an Obama victory and a more favourable regulatory regime in these numbers.

Your previous diary noted that European Off-shore new capacity delivered in 2009 was 600 Megawatts and represented c. 10% of total new wind capacity in Europe.  Thus Europe delivered only c. 6 Gigawatt of new wind capacity in 2009 compared to 10 for the US.

Is there a danger that whilst the EU talks a good game on climate change and sustainable energy, the US actually gets on with the job and delivers more?  For how much longer can European firms maintain their lead in design and production technologies?

I appreciate that onshore is quicker, cheaper and easier to deliver, and the US has a huge advantage in onshore wind resources.  But they also have a crap grid and poor corporate infrastructure for enhancing it.  So who is going to hit capacity constraints for integrating wind power sooner?  Where are the EU and US on developing smart grids and efficient means of moving gigawatts of power from wind resource rich regions to wind poor but high demand regions?

It's great news for the US and the planet, but is the EU, once again, in danger of being left behind having made the running for so long?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 10:39:17 AM EST
who cares if we're "left behind" as long as we do what is right for us? Why should we grow as fast as developing countries or, in the case of wind, of laggards like the US?

Europe's number is likely to be above 8,000 MW (I don't know, thus the rounded percentage for the offshore portion), continuing on a stable trend over the past few years.

The onshore wind resource in Europe is weaker and harder to tap than in the US (population densities et al) - except in the UK which has its specific set of NIMBY and regulatory issues hampering the development - so what has been done in Europe is not bad, and the push into offshore ensures that this continues.

I'll let CH comment on technology, but most of the R&D is in Europe, still, and the developments for offshore will remain here - and that's the big growth area for us.

But I find such comparisons and questions about decline (or being "left behind") silly. Why even think that?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 12:11:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking like that because:

  1. If the US is considered a laggard then I wondered whether the EU was also starting to lag (behind its own commitments) despite the history of a more positive regulatory environment and the 20/30% commitment to reducing carbon emissions

  2. I would like to see the EU continuing to lead in such progressive industries (as opposed to armaments, oil, exotic financial engineering etc.)

  3. Whether we like it or not we are in competition with the US, China etc. for jobs and sustainable living standards/state services.

  4. The sustainable electricity generation and distribution infrastructure is an example, par excellence, of the benefits of cross-border cooperation in finance, R&D, regulation, market access, production and distribution - and thus an important driver of EU cooperation and integration.

  5. What's wrong with having another EU "success story" to counter the neo-lib narrative?


notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 01:16:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. I don't see how US = laggard leads to Europe = laggard. Seriously. Why??
  2. Sure. Haven't you been reading my previous diaries on wind?
  3. Most of the discourse is about the relative decline of Europe because Asia is catching up on us. Their catching up does not mean we get any poorer or less sustainable; quite the opposite, it's likely that the more they 'catch up', the less sutainable their economies are. Maybe this needs to be pointed out too.
  4. well energy regulation is made in Brussels. And again, this is the only exemple that works in the world.
  5. nothing's wrong with that. But we're talking about wind, one of the great European success stories of the past decade or two, and yet you come up with that notion of decline. Maybe the neo-lib narrative is in your head!


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 01:52:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the US is delivering 10 Gigabytes and the EU (by your previous diary) is producing c. 6 Gigabytes of new capacity in 2009 then I found it surprising that the EU was delivering less new capacity than the US especially considering the much greater and longer term commitment to wind in the EU - even given the EU's greater installed base and other constraints.  

I was raising a question that those numbers suggested to me and looking for clarification - not making a proclamation - and am happy to see that those numbers were not quite accurate and don't give the full picture.  No need to see all questions as evidence of hostility.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 02:28:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not repeating what Jérôme already answered to this; why do you focus on comparing new installations only? By adding 10GW, the USA only reached 35GW total -- while by adding 6-8GW, the EU will reach 71-73GW. Quite a different level to have high growth at, especially considering our less good on-shore potential. Once European off-shore construction gears up, it will be a question if the USA will ever catch up.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:22:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
of course, DoDo, some of us are too close to the trees to remember the forest, thanks for the most simple answer.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 04:27:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is like GDP and GDP growth (or indeed, especially for Ireland, wealth and GDP).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 08:28:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...and in the US overweening significance of changes in housing inventory (e.g. MoM new constraction and existing "supply", commercial and residential "investment", average unit price) rather than cumulative housing stock.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 10:59:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
why do you focus on comparing new installations only?

Because that was the focus of Jerome's diary. Jeez - is one not allowed to ask a question around here?!

For the record:  I am delighted that (despite a less optimal wind resource) the EU is so well advanced in developing its wind power and still retaining a significant if lesser share in new installations.  I am sure we would all like to see both the EU and the USA continuing to do more and accelerating the rate of growth and overcoming the technical and infrastructural obstacles to doing that.

Sustainable energy production and CO2 emissions reduction is one of the shining lights of the EU and I was disappointed to see the EU lose much of its political leadership position on the issue at Copenhagen.  I am glad that, as CH has confirmed, it is not losing its economic and technological leadership role in that area and hope it will lead to reduced use of gas and other carbon energy sources as time goes on.

I really don't see any room for complacency on this issue - we should be fighting for the EU to do better on a broader range of fronts - rather than being overly self-satisfied at what we have achieved to date.  Jerome has already written about the headwinds he faced in putting a financial deal together and there are many other factors inhibiting the development of the industry.  

Ireland, for example, has an almost incomparable wind resource but its development is being inhibited by a lack of finance, entrepreneurial activity, regulatory restraints on the national electricity supplier increasing its output, and lack of integration with a broader European electricity grid which could help to smooth out the peaks and troughs of wind power production.

Instead of arguing about how great we are, we have to do better.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 08:59:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because that was the focus of Jerome's diary.

Sigh. Jérôme's focus was US growth, not the comparison of US and other growth, and even less an analysis of falling behind...

I really don't see any room for complacency on this issue - we should be fighting for the EU to do better on a broader range of fronts - rather than being overly self-satisfied at what we have achieved to date.

That's good. Though it is more local, with the obstacles typically being local regulations.

Instead of arguing about how great we are, we have to do better.

You were arguing that we are worse than others -- if you wanted to speak about doing better compared to ourselves, you derailed your own argument there.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 09:46:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
You were arguing that we are worse than others -- if you wanted to speak about doing better compared to ourselves, you derailed your own argument there.

Is it not possible to note both that - as Jerome's figures revealed - the EU installed less new capacity than the US last year, and that the EU should try to do better?  I am now left wondering what all this extreme sensitivity and slightly insulting responses to asking a simple question means.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 10:02:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it not possible to note both that - as Jerome's figures revealed - the EU installed less new capacity than the US last year, and that the EU should try to do better?

That would be two independent statements -- but didn't you conclude one from the other? (If not, what was the point of noting that the EU may have installed less?) Did our replies not challenge the rationale for comparison, in multiple ways (resource to exploit, level of current exploitation, long-term trends)? It read like an argument about US and EU GDP growth.

I am now left wondering what all this extreme sensitivity and slightly insulting responses to asking a simple question means.

Well -- I can't speak for others whether they actually felt sensitivity (extreme or not) or intended to hurl insults (slight or not), but I myself sighed because I didn't think your re-framed version meant the same as what you yourself and Jérôme said earlier.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 10:18:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:
Did our replies not challenge the rationale for comparison, in multiple ways

Perhaps you missed the following in the original question:

Frank Schnittger:

I appreciate that onshore is quicker, cheaper and easier to deliver, and the US has a huge advantage in onshore wind resources.  But they also have a crap grid and poor corporate infrastructure for enhancing it.  So who is going to hit capacity constraints for integrating wind power sooner?  Where are the EU and US on developing smart grids and efficient means of moving gigawatts of power from wind resource rich regions to wind poor but high demand regions?

The reality is that both continents face differing challenges of geography, infrastructure, finance and politics, and I was trying to find out more about how well both were doing in addressing them.  I don't think that is a silly question that only neo-libs would ask, and I don't know what your sighing added to the conversation. Wind energy is hardly my specialist subject but I had been planning to do a diary on the Irish Electricity Supply Board's plans in sustainable and intermittent power sources in the area and wanted to get a handle on the bigger picture.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 10:57:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you missed the following in the original question:

I shall reply to it more specifically below, but it (1) doesn't justify the comment's title, (2) doesn't change the validity of our challenges of the rationale for comparison.

But they also have a crap grid and poor corporate infrastructure for enhancing it. So who is going to hit capacity constraints for integrating wind power sooner?

As a serious problem, that's in the future, on both continents. As an excuse raised by regulators stopping wind in certain regions, that's the recent past: see the crash of the market a few years ago in Hungary and Austria, and that's Europe. Meanwhile, zoning laws and the scramble for the best on-shore wind sites are real constraints on rapid on-shore expansion at the present, in Europe.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:12:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Besides, though Crazy Horse will argue that there is still plenty of room for expansion on-shore, methinks the bulk of that is in certain problematic countries (UK, France), off-shore is rolling off now, and the focus should now be on photovoltaic, and more pilot projects for others (like concentrated solar or hot-dry-rock geothermal, the second also for distance heating).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 09:51:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
because your whole premise is based on saying that only 6GW will have been built in Europe last year, a number you pulled out of incomplete and voluntarily approximative data on the proportion of offshore in the total, and you then jumped right into a "Europe is declining theme" which I find exasperating, and not just from the WSJ.


I was disappointed to see the EU lose much of its political leadership position on the issue at Copenhagen.

As far as I can tell, the EU lost the leadership of nothing: China, the US and others all happily agreed between themsleves to ignore the problem and do nothing. That's not leadership, that's denial.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 11:48:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, my whole premise was that I could ask a civil question based on approximate data you had provided and get a civil reply. Noting that Europe installed less new capacity than the US may not be on message for an EU PR flunkey but that is not my role.  Neither do I parrot a WSJ "Europe is declining" meme and I would thank you for not seeking to brand me with that ideology.

As for Copenhagen, you must be one of the few people that doesn't think that it represented a setback for attempts to mitigate climate change and the EU's attempt to lead that process forward.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 01:26:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither do I parrot a WSJ "Europe is declining" meme

You kicked off this whole meandering subthread with

EU being left behind again?


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:03:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it was the "again" that rubbed people the wrong way, because it implies a trend of being overtaken by other powers. Such a trend does not seem to be in evidence.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:23:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The again was actually a reference to the Copenhagen debacle where the EU had been in a leadership position but was left out of the talks which led to what little agreement was eventually reached.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 06:44:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was nothing in the initial comment to indicate that this was a Copenhagen reference, so you have to acknowledge at least that you left yourself open to misinterpretation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:07:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So no one is allowed to ask the question whether it is possible that the EU is falling behind in some aspect or other without being accused of being a silly WSJ neo-lib?  A simple factual reply - such as that provided by CH - would have sufficed.

Indeed I was glad to read his comments that the 2009 rate of installation in the EU need not be a cause for concern - although I am concerned that progress in Ireland seems to have slowed and the senior manager from the ESB I spoke to seemed to have little time for wind power as a priority despite the fact that the ESB's own strategic plan calls for a €22 Billion investment in renewable energy and a commitment to generate one third of all power from renewables by 2020.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 07:33:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So no one is allowed to ask the question whether it is possible that the EU is falling behind in some aspect

See discussion of "again" elsewhere. (And your above reply could have reflected that, coming after your reply to JakeS.)

A simple factual reply - such as that provided by CH - would have sufficed.

Your thread-starter wasn't or at least couldn't be read obviously as a simple factual question, you have to see that.

I am concerned that progress in Ireland seems to have slowed

I would more characterise the situation there as "still hasn't taken off". 2008 installations were 208 MW, this year's seem to be 250 MW (Or maybe even 500 MW -- it's confusing because the Irish Wind Energy Association's statistics page is a mess, and they seem to insist on including Northern Ireland in Ireland.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:17:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
don't put "Europe left behind again" as your title if you have such innocuous intentions.


As for Copenhagen, you must be one of the few people that doesn't think that it represented a setback for attempts to mitigate climate change and the EU's attempt to lead that process forward.

Where did I say that it was not a setback for attempts to mitigate climate change? All I said is that it is easy to "lead" to a deal if the deal is to do nothing. That the EU was not involved in such deal is not a valid criticism of its leadership. Its leadership is demonstrated by the fact that it is the only one to have binding targets on itself - and it has the credibility of having met the Kyoto targets it imposed on itself in the 90s. Whether these targets are enough is another issue, but at least the EU has acted, both in setting goals and, so far, in fulfilling them.

The only way to pull China in will be through an all out trade war, and I expect we'll get there eventually, if no deal happens.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:38:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We would have to purge a number of Quisling governments first.

Starting with the COP15 hosts...

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 10:42:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Short answer is no, the EU is not being left behind.

First, on the manufacturing side, nearly half of the installations were produced in Europe.  In Q4 alone, US manufacturing accounted for 1848.5 MWs, while EU accounted for 1652.9 MWs in the US. (Siemens, Vestas, REpower, Acciona, others; and that's just Q4.)

Second, some of the largest developers in the US are already owned by EU utilities.

Both continents are moving aggressively toward grid enhancement.

I've got more, but there's a webinar on the results right now.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 12:40:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 01:23:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Back of envelope numbers (very rough) based on AWEA preliminary data, for capacity additions in the US 2009:

The EU supplied somewhere between 42-45% of the total installed.

  •  Vestas  (DK)              16%
  •  Siemens  (DK/D)      13%
  •  Gamesa  (SP)              7%
  •  REpower  (D)              4%
  •  Acciona  (SP)              2%
  •  Nordex  (D)              <1%   (new to market)

  •  Mitsubishi  (J)             8%
  •  Suzlon  (I)                   6%

  •  Clipper  (US)               3%
  •  GE  (US/D)                  41%

Some portion of US manufactured turbines use European components, as do those from Asia.  Towers are largely produced domestically for all turbines.  Rotor blades are often from European companies with facilities in the US, though some are shipped.

The first Chinese manufactured turbines have already been installed in the US, with the first significant order already in place for 2010 delivery.

US jobs in the industry remained steady at an estimated 85,000.  Increased were construction and O&M, decreases were in manufacturing.

Projecting into 2010, market signals remain mixed, with some growth and CAPEX decisions awaiting the results from a disfunctional Congress.  

We're still awaiting 2009 EU stats, and while one can safely say the EU numbers won't be aggressive, they won't be lagging too much either.  The EU is in a transition phase, hurt by the lack of push to further develop onshore but helped by the beginnings of the repowering sector, where older, smaller turbines are reaching the end of their economic life, and will be replaced.

Anecdote from the wind geek dinner:  wry smiles as we remarked on the turbines (installed years ago) spinning at the edge of the airport, while politicians in the UK are still looking for solutions to the "radar problem."  (censored)


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 02:51:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps as interesting is that over one-third of all 2009 US projects were developed by European-owned companies.

  •  Iberdrola              (SP)            1241.1   MWs
  •  E.on Renewables (D)              993.5
  •  Horizon  (EdP)     (P)               769.4
  •  EnXco   (EdF)        (FR)             355

If one counts BP as being European, with some 725 MWs, the total is over 40% of projects.  Note also that the US branches of European banks traditionally make up a significant portion of the lenders.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 04:19:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If one counts BP as being European
What do you mean if?

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 04:27:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, did i forget to include the smiley for zee leetle yoke?  And pretty strong showing from the Iberian peninsula, na?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 04:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And pretty strong showing from the Iberian peninsula, na?

So what, I'm not a nationalist.

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 04:34:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But aren't you a Europhile and supporter of progressive industries in Europe??

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:33:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you mean if?

Well, given the behaviour of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, I think many of us would prefer to not count BP as "European."

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 08:17:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Um, no true Scotsman?

En un viejo pas ineficiente, algo as como Espaa entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:00:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BP's environmental record in the US is disasterous, regardless of what it did 70 years ago in an earlier incarnation, and regardless of it's PR budget  Beyond Petroleum.  BP has played a decent role in the US wind industry, though perhaps not when measured against its potential or size.  And their technical choices do not evince what one would expect of an engineering company.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 04:26:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by rootless2 on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 02:33:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Siemens has located an R&D facility in Bolder, Colorado, but has only 800 employees in its US Wind Power department - and is planning to double this in the next 2/3 years - seems quite small for such a large market share - but presumably its US operations are only beginning to substitute European Sourced nacelles etc.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 09:24:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your previous diary noted that European Off-shore new capacity delivered in 2009 was 600 Megawatts and represented c. 10% of total new wind capacity in Europe.  Thus Europe delivered only c. 6 Gigawatt of new wind capacity in 2009 compared to 10 for the US.

EWEA's numbers are still not out, but,

  • incidentally, the German Federal Wind Energy Association just released its numbers: 1,916.8 MW added (reaching a total of 25,777.01 MW), higher than in the last two years, and higher than what I expected from the half-year numbers and the general economic and regulatory situation.

  • The Spanish numbers aren't out yet, but AEE reports that wind power increased its share in the supply of demand from 11.5 to 14.3% (with 20.1% reached in windy December and a record 54.1% at 03:50 on 30 December), so, I think they exceeded last year too. One can also guesstimate the current total from the figures here, which is about 2 GW above last year's total, so it should be around 1.9 GW too.

  • The UK's BWEA lists projects summing up to around 1075 MW [BWEA is notoriously bad at checking its numbers], though that's not final.

  • French wind power is a 4,522 MW, that's another increase by 1.1 GW.

So four of the the big ones sum up to 6 GW already. Portugal, Italy, Greece, Ireland and the rest should add at least another 3 GW, so I think expectations will be well exceeded in the EU, too: should be around 9 GW.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:00:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've seen that Italy is at 1.1GW as well

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:32:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cool! I read of a prediction of 800 MW only.

(Can you tell where if it's not confidential?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 04:38:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm betting on a mini-surge in eastern Yurp as well.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 05:04:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US has an enormous base of coal power plants that are being fed increasingly marginal coal. The good people of Texas wisely shut down plans for several new coal plants there, fearing the ratepayers would get stuck for the cost of remediation when more stringent emissions requirements came along and when the environmental costs were forced back on the polluters. Unfortunately, Arkansas is allowing one such plant to move forward. Some of the estimates even included possible use of local lignite as a fuel.

Wind is so preferable on all grounds other than raw cost when environmental impacts are externalized. Ironically, the wind industry in Arkansas is going from triumph to triumph. One manufacturing project in Fort Smith with Mitsubishi will now proceed given the resolution of patent disputes. Unfortunately, the entity responsible for grid inter-ties and transmission has been stymied by the corporate profit interests of Entergy, who wish to sell cheap electricity from coal plants and oppose money spent from ratepayer funds being used to upgrade transmission lines from wind power in west Texas owned by others.

Pickens appears to be the proud owner of a great many GE wind turbines for which an adequate transmission infrastructure remains lacking. Hopefully, some new stimulus money could help to further upgrade transmission paths from the Texas panhandle to the eastern US grid. Texas has always stood alone with its own grid. Typical of Texas.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 01:03:08 PM EST
Texas is already in construction of special transmission paths just for wind.  And pickens downsized his order of outdated GE turbines, which remain the US market leader for reasons no one understands.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 04:34:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But they're American, so they must be the best!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 05:31:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pickens' order might have a lot to do with GE's US market position, for now. Perhaps he was buying American products to strengthen his argument for wind power as a source of domestic jobs. Who knows. He is now concerned about legacy.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jan 26th, 2010 at 10:31:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, GE has always held an outsize share of the US market, despite mediocre performance, long before Pickens placed his order.  He's really just an aged wildcatter, and he's not as new to the industry as he made out.  Our team first met with him in 1999, when he expressed interest in offshore investment as well as standard onshore.  But he could only see then current economics, thus missing the gravy train completely.

In Texas style, he can kiss my, umh, horse.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 04:35:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
GE owns some key patents in the US.  Especially #5,038,039 which effectively blocked Enercon from entering the US market.
by corncam on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 02:53:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't believe that Patent has been invalidated, but GE lost the last round when the ITC ruled that Mitsubishi was not in violation of the patent. Hopefully, Enercon will someday have the right to its prior art.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Jan 31st, 2010 at 08:04:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
promoted wind to get sweet deals on gas-powered car fleets (wind was supposed to "release" such gas) - conveniently to be provided by his massive gas leases.

His plans were disrupted by the boom in shale gas, which brought gas prices down. Little to do with wind.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 05:09:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The state of Iowa also cancelled plans for two new coal-fired plants last year.  Part of the opposition came from people who work at the new wind-manufacturing plants that opened here recently.
by corncam on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 03:00:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There wouldn't happen to be more precise numbers on how everything was financed, i.e. how much was balance sheet during construction and then refinance into project finance (NextEra), how much was pre-paid PPA and how much was "classical" PF, of course all using ITC/PTC?
by crankykarsten (cranky (where?) gmx dot organisation) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 03:41:20 AM EST
For me this remains the key unknown about the US 2009 figures.  With the strong showing of both Yurpeen and amurkan utilities, one suspects significant percentage of balance sheet finance, especially given the seeming lower level of debt finance (again, predominantly by Yurpeen banks).

Another question is where all the power is going from West Texas windparks (at least until transmission is completely upgraded), and under what sort of contracts (aren't merchant plants there unprofitable at least in the short term?).

Can you help fill us in?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 04:42:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was talking a banker who is doing some US deals the other day and apparently curtailment is an ever bigger issue in the US That means that some of the electricity which could be produced when wind is blowing acutally goes to waste... If this also applies to Texas I don't know...

Re the Utilities, one might be tempted to think that those mentione (eon, EDF, EDP, Iberdrola) use their balance sheet, but many actually use project finance as far as I know. The question is however, do they use PF from the beginning of construction or is the construction phase financed on balance sheet to then refinance once the wind farm is in operation, such as FPL (now NextEra) used to always do.

by crankykarsten (cranky (where?) gmx dot organisation) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 05:04:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The project finance market was very active in the second half of 2009, but these projects will be built next year. This year, you had projects built on financings set up in 2008 or before, when financings were still strong at least in the first half of the year.

So it's hard to say.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 05:08:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The 10 GW installation was a surprise on another level, too. In much of the US, generated electricity prices (not including T&D, connections, etc) collapsed to about 30 to 50% of peak 2008 levels. So large parts of the US saw little, if any new installations.

And then there is the almost complete lack of Feed-In Laws. Put some Feed-in Laws in the larger US states (Great Lakes and Great Plains regions, for example), and stand back/get out of the way. The Ontario miracle (Green Energy Act) would be replicated by scaled upwards significantly factor. So we would see at least a doubling of wind capacity every year, for close to a decade.

We have that much wind capacity, and then some. Something like 18 times our current electricity consumption according to a recent Harvard study, and that is only employing fast winds - nothing moderate (like those in a lot of inland Europe) needed for this study - see http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/06/potential-in-the-wind-23-times-current-us-consumption.ar s. And that is just the land based capacity. Canada has about the same, or even more, but about 1/10th of the population. And both countries have massive pumped hydroelectric storage capacity (basically, the entire west coast, from California to the Canadian border (ocean water can be used; a very steep drop, too) would be a start on that. There's a pretty vast offshore wind resource that stretches form Texas to Maine, and across the Great Lakes. And when deep water turbines get commercially available (like the one in Norway), the very windy west coast resource becomes available.

However, as long as we are hindered (kinda like a massive ball and chain attached to where it hurts) with the bizarre subsidies and incentives (rapid depreciation, PTC/ITC) that have to be used (and which are better than nothing, though that is the standard of comparison), well, 10 GW new capacity for 2009 is pretty darn good. Should have been more like 50 GW for 2009, but then you Euro's also have Ronnie Raygun and the Evil Shrubsters (Bu$h1 and son-of-a Bu$h1) to thank for your present dominance in wind industry, as well as the hard work and ingenuity that has been observed.

Anyway, there is still plenty of work to be done to make the US a renewable electricity powered country. With about 350 GW (delivered basis) of polluting power (coal, natural gas, nukes) that needs to be replaced, that's a need for about 1000 GW of new capacity needed. Then to replace the natural gas used for most home/commercial heating (about 10 trillion cubic ft/yr), that will take another 293 GW delivered, or about another 1000 GW of capacity. Geez, that would only leave us with 4.5 times excess wind energy capacity (for land based), unless we started tapping into moderate winds, like a measly 7 m/s at 80 meters above the ground.

So anyway, our need for wind energy barely has been scratched. Put in some decent financing arrangements possible via Feed-In Laws, and it might get done. Otherwise, there won't be enough tax rebates/credits/deductions to be of much use, and it will peter out. But at least some rich people won't be tortured with the sight of wind turbines impinging on their viewscapes.....

Nb41

by nb41 on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 01:16:00 PM EST
Trade noise from German Engineering Federation.


BERLIN, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Beijing is trying to prevent the German wind industry from entering the booming Chinese market, industry representatives said Wednesday in Berlin.

The current standing of German wind turbine manufacturers in the Chinese market is "disastrous, bottom of the barrel," Thorsten Herdan of the German Engineering Federation, or VDMA, said at a news conference held by the German wind industry.

Stunning revelation, considering such a high proportion of Chinese turbine design comes from German licenses, joint ventures, and design firms.  And considering the requirement for 70% local manufacture has been relaxed.  And considering Vestas and GE are active, and REpower and Nordex have been there for years.

(Granted, these are very recent changes, but the technology is basically German, and has been for years.  And Chinese firms have already bought several German companies lock, stock and barrel.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 27th, 2010 at 05:14:05 PM EST
Surprisingly, the Chinese are buying a lot of American technology.  I believe that about 50% of American Superconductor's sales go to Chinese wind turbine companies.  But American utilities are far too conservative to buy these designs.
by corncam on Sat Jan 30th, 2010 at 03:06:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
American Superconductor is currently achieving a certain marketing success in China, but their technology (from their purchase of Windtec in Austria) is in no way comparable to European standards yet. they have had very limited success in other markets.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Feb 2nd, 2010 at 05:59:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that apart from some coverage in the NYT and the national media here in the US, this story got minimal coverage.

While wind generated energy rose 39 percent, the troubling part was the sector didn't add jobs. Total US jobs associated with wind energy stalled at 85,000. That's about flat from the previous year as the recession took a toll on manufacturing. In 2008, job growth surged as the sector added 35,000 positions. Still given the bleed of jobs that we are enduring, the fact that sector didn't shed jobs is perhaps good news.

by Charles Lemos on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:03:55 AM EST
At this stage in the game, installation accounts for more jobs than O&M, simply on account of new installation being such a large fraction of cumulative installation. So the relevant figure isn't the 39 % growth in cumulative output, but some weighted average between the 39 % increase in cumulative output and the 20 % increase in installation. With the bulk of the weight given to the installation.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jan 28th, 2010 at 07:42:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Backwards remains in power.  Something about the following statement i just don't understand.


"I see an evolving attitude on energy by the president," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has called for 100 plants to be built in the next 20 years. Alexander, R-Tenn., said Obama's mention of nuclear energy in the address Wednesday night was the most important statement that the president has made on nuclear power.

"Up until now, the administration has been pursuing a national windmill policy instead of a national energy policy, which is the military equivalent of going to war in sailboats," he said.

Is there something wrong with going to war in sailboats?

The blockquote is from an article about Obama deciding to get a (toothless) climate bill passed, so he needs the nuke guys on board.  OK, let's play politics with long half-lives, that's how adults do it. Some bank with significant financing for wind should take the Senator from the Tennessee Valley Authority on a one week tour of European wind, including utility dispatch control rooms, to educate him some about "windmill policy."

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Jan 31st, 2010 at 01:40:22 PM EST


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