Stronger US wind power

Here’s a nice cool story from the New York Times about a certain Nebraska town and its growing pride in their windy condition.

Ainsworth, Nebraska, according to the article, became the state’s first major wind farm with 36 wind turbines erected in late 2005. Nebraska Public Power District, the state’s largest utility, hopes that within a decade or so, 10 percent of its energy will be produced by clean, free, plentiful wind.

Here in the US, the wind energy sector is certainly keeping score and could even be ahead of the solar sector in terms of investments.

In the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) second quarter report, the US installed a total capacity of over 2,700 megawatts in the year and over 19,500 MW overall. AWEA said over 8,000 MW more are under construction for completion this year or early next year. Over 7,500 MW is likely to be installed in 2008.

Here are some of the projects recently announced in the past few weeks:

  • Hydro Green Energy and the Wind Energy Systems Technology Group (W.E.S.T.) will explore the potential to develop the world’s first hybrid offshore wind-hydrokinetic ocean current power projects that will utilize the Gulf of Mexico’s wind and water currents to generate nearly 5,000 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity.
  • IBERDROLA RENEWABLES today announced it has sold the output of a commercial-scale wind power project that is expected to be the first wind project constructed in Arizona.
  • American Electric Power signed a long-term power purchase agreement for renewable wind energy with Beech Ridge Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Invenergy Wind LLC. Beech’s wind project currently under development in Greenbrier County, W.Va., is expected to be on line by March 31, 2010.
  • Southern California Edison signed a 20-year contract with DCE, an affiliate of Caithness Energy, which will provide up to 909 megawatts of wind power. The Caithness project will reportedly be one of the world’s largest fully permitted wind farms.

This trend is certainly good news for specialty chemical producers who remarked on several occasions that demand for products such as epoxy resins, maleic anhydride, carbon fiber, high performance plastics, etc., is going up because of their use in industrial wind turbines.

But they shouldn’t celebrate as of yet, because according to AWEA, the expiration of the federal production tax credit less than five months from now threatens the wind energy sector’s spectacular progress in the US.

AWEA said the pipeline of investment for 2009 has been on hold for months, with escalating risks and costs for the industry, because of the uncertainty about the production tax credit.

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