German Wind conference

Wednesday 25 November, 2009

I attended the Germany WindEnergy Business Conference & reception.  They are making all of the information that was presented available on their website, so click on to see all of the presentations & video.  I’ll summarize the Q&A so that you don’t have to watch all of the video just to get to those portions.

Wind Energy in Germany:

  • The current energy mix includes 15% renewables in Germany.
  • Small energy providers compete with the big guys by forming local cooperatives with only a few large banks involved.  Renewable energy is not driven by large utilities.
  • Competitive price determination results in ROI’s of 5-10%.
  • There are different tariffs for different energy sources which depend on the site & time frame.
  • Grid system operators pay for the grid’s expansion.
  • Power plant certification only takes weeks rather than months.
  • There are few service technicians & little special vocational training, so there are some turbine maintenance issues.  This is complicated by the fact that there are different work standards across Europe.
  • R&D focuses on bigger turbines which can work more hours each year.
  • Turbines are not permitted on buildings in Germany.
  • The key to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% by 2020 is changing consumption by using energy efficiency plus renewables.
  • Only Massachusetts & Vermont have feed-in tariffs & California is considering 1.

Wind Energy in the US

  • re: key success factors; Europe has better tolerances because they’ve been building their wind industry supply chain for 30 years; GE has 30 casting companies, but none in North America; consistent quality is a given; cash for growth is required; openness & localization help.
  • Germany’s feed-in tariff differentiates itself from the US
  • States are giving grants to support R&D & manufacturing
  • US wind projects are bigger than most others so banking relationships & the size of the projects are key.  It’s easier to sell small projects directly to utilities, but there are extremely large & small projects.  There actually should be small-, medium-, & large-sized wind projects.
  • New technologies should bring greater transmission quality to eliminate 7-8% leakages.  Larger, lighter, cleaner, more reliable turbines, with better diagnostics & aesthetics will come.



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