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German Windenergy conference, the sequel

Tuesday 23 November, 2010

The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest hosted the WINDENERGY BUSINESS CONFERENCE 2010 .  Videos of the panel discussions & presentations can be found here.  Here’s what they said during their presentations that was not presented on their slides or captured on video:

U. Lohse of Germany’s Renewable Energies Export Initiative just read his slides, so you can consult his presentation to see what he said.

L. Velser  of German Wind Energy Assn:

  • Enercon, Germany’s largest wind energy producer, is expensive but offers good service.  The owner is not a friend of the US, so he focuses on Europe & is building a manufacturing facility in Canada
  • world leader Vesta is having problems with the foundations of its turbines, which must be replaced, which is quite expensive.  Their customers have lost trust & are moving to Enercon
  • 35% of energy comes from renewables in the North & only 25% further South, so they need to promote wind more in the South
  • Baltic Park started up in August with 21 turbines from Siemens.  Installing turbines in the Baltic is tough because there is only a 3 month summer window to get it done
  • Onshore wind generation is most efficient & higher hub heights raise efficiency, pardon the pun
  • Germany’s goal is to get 25% of all energy from wind by 2020
  • 100K demonstrated against nuclear energy, but there is much cross ownership in the energy sector, including between wind & nuclear.

K. Rohrig of Frauenhofer Institute for Wind Energy & Energy System Technology

  • to reduce emissions per capita is unrealistic:  we need to transform our energy supply system & avoid unused heating systems
  • power duration requires energy storage & management, which will require a smart grid in the future
  • weather forecasts must be improved to better provide data on solar & wind potential
  • wind farms need to be managed more like other power plants (wcm=windfarm cluster management)
  • Europe needs to upgrade its power grid (double capacity) for 100% renewables.

K. Lloyd of PNE Wind USA

  • do we have a geographic transmission policy problem in the US?
  • PNE is agnostic to which turbines they use
  • 1500 MW are in the pipeline now
  • JV’s take 2-3 years to put together, greenfield investments take 5 years
  • the political issue is money & jobs
  • 2010 has been 1/2 of 2009
  • the wind tunnel in the US extends from North Dakota to Texas
  • the production tax credit is 1 of the top tax incentives in the US
  • 61% of the voters in California voted not to repeal their commitment to renewables.

E. Weston of the Great Lakes Wind Network

  • GLWN is a group of manufacturers & wind farm construction contractors
  • Canada feels like the US in 2008
  • 87% of the population of Americans want wind power
  • 29 states have enacted wind energy programs
  • we should achieve 20% wind energy production by 2030
  • many gray market turbines infiltrated the market in 2008-9
  • there have been structural changes in sourcing for wind energy:  supply chains are becoming more domesticated as components that were barged over by boats are now being assembled on the Plains
  • successful manufacturers are taking a ruthless approach to cost pressures to become lean while still focusing on service, speed, & responsiveness with a relentless long-term commitment
  • maintenance is a different market focused more on speed than cost:  1/2 of the 20K turbines installed in the US are out of warranty & need spare parts
  • wind farm construction is picking up, but the future depends on Washington
  • Californians voted to sustain goals of 20% renewable energy by 2010 & 33% by 2020.

S. Spethman of Suzlon Wind Energy Corp.

  • Suzlon’s North American headquarters is based in Chicago with assembly in India & has Chinese suppliers nearby & key suppliers in Germany
  • India, China, & Brazil are driving growth
  • 2 year warranties on turbines sold in the US are being negotiated up to 5 years
  • GE had 50% of the market on installations in 2009
  • the huge surplus of natural gas keeps its price down
  • Suzlon spent $70M on logistics moving stuff around
  • technicians can reset systems remotely within 1 hour with real-time monitoring systems
  • customer service levels have dipped 15-20%
  • his advice:
  1. join AWEA
  2. network with your supply chain members
  3. promote US legislation.
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