Wind Power Picks up in 2011


Vestas Wind Systems A/S (Randers, Denmark) on March 30 announced the launch of its newest dedicated offshore turbine, called the V164-7.0 MW, with a rotor diameter of 164m/538 ft.

According to Anders Søe-Jensen, president of Vestas Offshore, the offshore wind market is set to take off in the coming years, but more so in some parts of the world than others: “We expect the major part of offshore wind development to happen in the northern part of Europe, where the conditions at sea are particularly rough. Based on our many years of offshore experience, we have specifically designed the V164-7.0 MW to provide the highest energy capture and the highest reliability in this rough and challenging environment.” The turbine is targeted, says the company, to U.K. Round 3 projects. Construction of the first V164-7.0 MW prototypes is expected in the fourth quarter of 2012. Serial production is set to begin in early 2015, provided a firm order backlog is in place to justify the necessarily substantial investment.

That announcement was followed on April 13 by news that wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa (Zamudio, Vizcaya, Spain) was chosen by Longyuan Power Group (Hong Kong, China) — the world’s third largest wind farm developer — to partner on wind projects in international markets outside of China. The agreement calls for the partners to research suitable sites for the joint development of wind farms, primarily in the U.S. but also in European and Latin American countries. Gamesa has already delivered turbines (more than 1,200 MW of installed capacity) to Longyuan, and the companies have jointly developed wind farms with a combined capacity of 200 MW. Additionally, Gamesa has agreed to jointly develop wind farms (an additional 200 MW) with Longyuan by 2015.

Coincident with a visit to China by Spain’s prime minister, Gamesa has signed three memoranda of understanding (MOU) with power companies Longyuan, China Resources Power (CRP, Hong Kong, China) and Datang International Power Generation Co. (Beijing, China), which could culminate in firm contracts in the coming months to supply turbine capacity of 900 MW. In the event that these agreements come to fruition, Gamesa will begin a business relationship with CRP while building on its existing relationships with Longyuan and Datang. In partnership with Datang, Gamesa is currently developing wind farms with a capacity of 289 MW in the province of Liaoning, and in 2010 it sold a total of 50 MW of its G8X-2.0 MW turbines to wind farm operators in the province. Gamesa has installed approximately 3,000 turbines at more than 60 sites across China since 2000. The company currently has four manufacturing plants in Tianjin province and is building two more in Jilin and Inner Mongolia. Gamesa currently employs 1,200 people in China.

In the U.S., the wind power industry appears to be coming out of its slump. On April 7, the American Wind Energy Assn. (AWEA, Washington, D.C.) issued its annual report on the state of the U.S. wind energy industry. AWEA reported that it grew by 15 percent in 2010 and provided 26 percent of the country’s new electricity-generating capacity. This was followed on April 28 by AWEA’s first quarter 2011 report, which revealed that America’s wind power industry installed 1,100 MW of new capacity in the first quarter alone and entered the second quarter with another 5,600 MW under construction. The “under construction” figure is nearly twice the capacity that the industry reported at this juncture in both 2009 and 2010. Moreover, two-thirds of those megawatts are already locked in, under long-term power purchase agreements with electric utilities, indicating that the U.S. wind energy industry has successfully weathered the disappointing economic and policy climate it faced in 2010. The total wind fleet now stands at 41,400 MW and produces enough clean energy to supply 10 million American homes.

“The American wind industry is delivering, despite competing with energy sectors that have permanent government subsidies in place,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA. “Wind is adding 35 percent of all new generating capacity since 2007 — that’s twice what coal and nuclear added combined.” The industry brought 14 new manufacturing facilities online, consistent with 2009.

The entire U.S. wind fleet produced 2.3 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2010, up from 1.7 percent in 2009. The U.S. has seen 35 percent average annual growth in installed wind-power capacity during the past five years and is second only to China, which has a total installed wind energy capacity of 42,300 MW. The top five wind turbine manufacturers, by share of megawatt capacity, are GE Energy (2,543 MW), Siemens (828 MW), Gamesa (562 MW), Mitsubishi (350 MW) and Suzlon (312 MW).



Source: compositesworld, June 02, 2011; Image: vestas