Posted on January 19th, 2017 in wind by Spencer R.
Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil has agreed to divest 25% of its stake in the Hywind Scotland floating offshore wind pilot to Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, Masdar.
The announcement was made at an official ceremony during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017, with Statoil agreeing to divest 25% of its stake in the 30-megawatt pilot project to Masdar. The Hywind Scotland pilot project will nevertheless be the world’s largest floating wind farm when it is completed late this year. The Scottish Government approved plans by Statoil to develop the project back in late 2015.
The project is expected to be able to produce power for approximately 20,000 households.
“The Hywind Scotland pilot park has the potential to open attractive new markets for renewable energy production worldwide,” said Irene Rummelhoff, Statoil’s executive vice president for New Energy Solutions. “With Masdar onboard as a strong strategic partner we are teaming up with a company with high ambitions within renewable energy. We believe Masdar can be a strong partner also in future Hywind projects and we hope that our collaboration will result in future value creation opportunities for both parties.”
“Masdar is excited to join the team developing the world’s first floating wind farm, and to build on our partnership with Statoil,” said Chief Executive Officer at Masdar, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi. “Hywind Scotland represents the next stage in the evolution of the offshore wind industry, combining the project management experience and technical expertise of one of the world’s largest offshore energy players – and our own capabilities in renewable energy development acquired over the last decade in the UK and international markets.
“We see tremendous potential in the commercial application of floating offshore wind technologies.”
The Hywind pilot is expected to cover approximately 4 square kilometers, about 25 kilometers off the coast of Peterhead in Scotland, in water depths of 95 to 120 meters. Floating offshore wind has the potential to generate affordable offshore wind energy while meeting specific requirements — generating in attractive offshore wind conditions in water depths beyond the reach of traditional offshore wind projects, and ensuring that offshore wind sites aren’t seen from shore.
“We expect floating offshore wind farms to benefit from the general cost development within the offshore wind segment,” Rummelhoff continued. “The objective of the Hywind Scotland pilot park is to demonstrate cost efficient and low risk solutions for future commercial scale floating wind farms. This will further increase the global market potential for offshore wind energy, contributing to realising Statoil’s ambition of profitable growth in renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions.”
Posted on January 12th, 2017 in wind by Spencer R.
A single Dutch Railways line in the Netherlands still runs on diesel fuel—but only until the end of this year. Every other train owned by the national rail company is already electric and now gets that electricity from Dutch wind farms.
"We want to give our commuters and train passengers a real sustainable alternative to flying or driving a car," says Ton Boon, spokesperson for Dutch Railways or NS, which runs a network of 5,500 Dutch trains. "Especially daily commuters."
The company, working in partnership with all other Dutch rail companies—including freight trains—had planned to source all of its electricity from wind by 2018, but after learning that extra wind power was available on the Dutch market, was able to purchase it earlier. The trains use a huge amount of power, roughly as much as the entire city of Amsterdam. But the growth in wind energy makes it possible to supply the whole amount.
Rather than buying power from existing renewable energy plants, the rail company chose to support newly-built projects. The power is sent into the grid, and the company buys certificates for each megawatt-hour of energy that it uses. Wind power doesn't go directly to the trains, both because that's not how the infrastructure is set up and because the trains need to pull from the grid for a constant source of power.
"If there is no wind you can run the trains," says Boon. "There needs to be enough power on the grid always."
Each day, 1.2 million people ride the trains—compared to less than 90,000 a day on Amtrak in the U.S. In 2011, the most recent year that data are available, Amtrak directly emitted nearly 800,000 metric tons of carbon pollution; NS's operational footprint is close to nothing, while running more than 15 times as many trains.
"We want to set an example for the market that it's possible to make an agreement with an energy supplier on making your energy usage really sustainable," says Boon.
Fifteen miles off the coast of Rhode Island stand 600-foot turbines, anchored in 90 feet of Atlantic waters. They are expected to generate enough energy to power 17,000 homes.
“We see this being a big industry, we see offshore wind producing a lot of energy for the United States, particularly here in the Northeast where the winds are really strong,” said Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, which built the wind farm.
The turbines will most benefit Block Island. Because of its location, 45 minutes by boat from the mainland, it currently gets its oil and gas shipped in.
Residents pay a premium; At peak times, nearly 60 cents per kilowatt. The wind farm is expected to cut that cost to about 24 cents.
That is great news for 68-year old Steve Draper. His family runs the 1661 Inn, one of the oldest businesses on the island.
“Our bill last year was somewhere around $200,000,” he said. “You try everything to cut your costs. It’s a major factor in doing business here.”
While countries like Denmark have been using off-shore wind farms since the early 1990s, U.S.-based projects have been stalled due to court fights over environmental fears and protests over the turbines blocking beachfront views.
“It took us eight years to build this project but we are finally here,” Grybowski said.
Other projects are in the works, potentially bringing 200 more wind turbines to the area within the next 10 years. Draper expects people will get used to the new scenery.
“We all got used to telephone poles and telephone wires in our views and they’re not beautiful,” he said.
Posted on December 12th, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.
The UK’s wind energy industry has surpassed another milestone, generating more than 10,000 megawatts (MW) for the first time from its fleet of onshore and offshore wind turbines.
The news comes from the UK’s wind energy trade body, RenewableUK, which reported that the record of 10,104 MW was achieved between 2pm and 2:30pm on Wednesday, providing 23% of Britain’s total electricity demand at the time.
“It’s terrific to see wind power smashing another record,” said RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck. “It shows that wind is playing an increasingly central role as a reliable part of our new modern energy system. As we install more wind power, more records will tumble. This is a Christmas clean energy bonus — not just for the renewable energy sector, but for all of us.”
The UK is arguably the world’s leading wind energy nation, given its past commitments to both onshore and offshore wind. According to RenewableUK’s figures, the UK has an onshore wind capacity of just over 9,000 MW, and offshore capacity of nearly 6,000 MW. Not surprisingly, there are also numerous offshore wind projects in development throughout UK waters.
Despite the fact that the UK earlier this year announced it would cease allowing onshore wind farms access to the country’s primary renewable energy subsidy scheme, wind energy is a dominant player across the country, and is likely to continue to be so for years to come.
Posted on December 7th, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.
Ohio has some of the country’s best wind resources, but right now the state it letting them lie dormant. That’s unfortunate because, if allowed to proceed, wind power growth in the Buckeye State is ready to create well-paying jobs while attracting millions of dollars into Ohio’s economy.
How did we get here?
In 2014, Ohio’s legislators temporarily froze the state’s renewable energy standard. That paused a policy with a strong track record of success across the U.S., where similar laws have created jobs, lowered energy bills and benefitted the environment.
Equally as disruptive, Ohio enacted the most stringent siting laws in the country, which essentially act as a wind moratorium. There was no public debate on this regulation.
Until these obstacles are fixed, Ohio will likely continue to see projects built in neighboring states, rather than within its borders.
However, a variety of supporters want to see the state’s clean energy policies repaired. Gov. John Kasich supports restarting Ohio’s RPS, while a dozen state chambers of commerce and economic development corporations signed a letter to the governor and legislature calling for an end to the freeze and prohibitive setbacks. They stated:
As chamber and economic development leaders, we have seen clean energy projects deliver significant economic benefits that are good for our businesses, schools, communities, and the economy of this great state.
To enable Ohio to take full advantage of this fast-growing sector that has already delivered more than $1.4 billion worth of investments, 9,000 jobs, and $4.6 million in payments to landowners and local governments, we believe there is a need for a clear and consistent roadmap on this issue.
That is why we encourage you to (1) reinstate the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) and oppose any attempt to continue a “freeze” on these programs and (2) restore wind siting regulations that will allow companies to continue to develop wind projects that will benefit our local communities.
Let’s work together to help the Buckeye state continue to lead in attracting local investment and growing local employment—and not surrender that role to neighboring states.
Ohio’s citizens only stand to gain if the state resumes the path to a clean, affordable future powered by renewable energy.
Posted on December 6th, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.
The installation of the foundations for a wind farm in the Baltic Sea can begin now that the area is clear of the remnants of war, a German company said.
German energy company E.ON and Norwegian oil and gas firm Statoil are planning the construction of the Arkona wind farm in the German waters of the Baltic Sea. After four months, the companies said the area was cleared of explosive ordnance left over from the major wars of the 20th century.
"The construction site ... is now completely free of remains from the time of the Cold War as well as World Wars I and II," the German company said. "The installation of the foundations for the Arkona offshore wind farm in the German Baltic Sea can be securely started in 2017 as planned."
Hundreds of thousands of mines and other munitions were strewn along the sea bed in what is one of the most densely mined waters in the world. The consortium behind the twin Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea to the German coast cleared the area of the remnants of war two years before construction began.
E.ON plans to invest at least $1.3 billion in developing the Arkona wind energy project and is the first company of its kind tapped to operate wind farms in the German waters of both the North and Baltic seas.
For Statoil, the company last year set a path toward investing in up to $200 million in renewable energy by buying into startups targeting opportunities in wind power, energy storage, smart grids and other energy-related technology.
The offshore Arkona project will be situated more than 20 miles off the German coast and generate enough power at peak capacity to meet the energy needs of 400,000 average households. Once completed, the wind farm will save more than 1 million tons of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, every year.
Posted on December 1st, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.
Wind will power Arlington’s General Motors Co. assembly plant, as the automaker purchases enough electricity to power 16 U.S. facilities.
GM will purchase 193,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to power the company’s business offices in Fort Worth and Austin, as well as the assembly and stamping complex in Arlington and 13 parts warehouses across the western half of the country. The agreement marks the largest purchase of renewable energy in the company’s history.
GM is sourcing wind power through an agreement with Renewable Energy Systems, a global renewable energy and energy storage development and construction company. The automaker will purchase 50 megawatts of power produced at a Renewable Energy Systems 150-megawatt wind farm, Cactus Flats, in Concho County, Texas.
“[Renewable Energy Systems] is proud to support General Motors in reaching its 100 percent renewable energy goal,” said Glen Davis, CEO of Renewable Energy Systems in the Americas, in a statement. “[Renewable Energy Systems] brings decades of experience to GM and other companies to reduce their carbon footprint and secure low-cost renewable energy for the future.”
According to GM’s estimates, switching to renewable wind power will lower the plant’s energy costs by about $3 million each year, as well as cut emissions by 1 million metric tons.
The agreement is part of GM’s pledge to meet all of the company’s energy needs through renewable sources by 2050. When the agreement with Renewable Energy Systems goes into place in 2018, 6 percent of GM’s global energy usage will come from renewable energy sources.
Along with its purchase of wind power, GM hosts 24 solar installations around the world and is the top ranked automotive user of solar energy in the U.S., according to a report released this month by the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Posted on November 29th, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.
Accio Energy gets its name from the Harry Potter series, where an "accio" spell summons something to a character (a broomstick, for instance). In the open ocean, Accio Energy summons something almost as powerful as one of Harry's charms: the physics of a thunderstorm.
The startup, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is testing a wind energy technology that looks nothing like a turbine. It's a permeable mast or panel that uses water droplets and the wind to create a direct electric current. The panels emit a fine positively charged mist. Then, when wind blows through, it separates negative from positive charges, sending electrons down a high voltage cable to the coastline.
The technical name for this process is ElectroHydroDynamics (EHD) and it could one day be a genuine contender to more conventional wind tech. The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) research program has awarded Accio close to $5 million to test its designs at scale. The company hopes to have a fully functioning prototype within a year or two.
"We're looking to make a step-change on costs and do something that leverages automotive heritage manufacturing," she says. "If we can make enough of a cost-saving differential, then we have a chance of making a difference and get more renewable power."
Offshore wind turbines can stand as high as 700 feet and are difficult to transport and fix into the ocean bed. You need specialist trucks and shipping equipment. Baird says the EHD panels, when built, will fit onto any 18-wheel flatbed truck, and can be put in place with conventional ships. Moreover, the EHD structure will float, meaning it can be placed in more locations than a fixed turbine. In all, Baird thinks Accio could cut the energy cost compared to turbines by 50% (though, of course, it's a long way from making good on that prediction).
The startup, founded by CTO Dawn White, participated recently in the Unreasonable Impact U.S. program, an accelerator for social impact-type businesses organized by the Unreasonable Institute and Barclays bank. If the testing phase goes well, Accio hopes to team up with industrial partners with heavy engineering and marine experience.
"We think this will be easier and faster to deploy [than turbines] so we can get more wind harvesting," Baird says. "If we can get some industrial partners to help us to accelerate the process, we could be [up and running] in five years."
Posted on November 15th, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.
Sweden's Vattenfall set a world record for the lowest price ever paid for offshore wind power. The state-owned energy company bid EUR 49.9 (or $54) per megawatt-hour to develop the Danish Kriegers Flak, a 600-megawatt offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea, about 15 kilometers off the Danish island Møn. Kriegers Flak. For comparison, the average cost of offshore wind is around $126per megawatt-hour.
The Kriegers Flak is set for operations by 2022 and will be Denmark's largest offshore wind farm. The farm will be able to supply 600,000 households with renewable energy, or 23 percent of all Danish households.
As a pioneer in wind power, having installed its first turbines in the mid-1970s, Denmark's latest renewable energy project puts the country on track to meet its 2020 goal of getting 50 percent of its power from renewables. The nation plans to ditch fossil fuels entirely by 2050.
“The announcement is an essential milestone for our ambition to increase our production of renewable power," Vattenfall CEO Magnus Hall said. "We are already the second largest offshore player globally. The winning bid of EUR 49.9 per megawatt-hour proves that Vattenfall is highly competitive and brings down the costs for renewable energy."
Vattenfall has now won tenders for three major offshore wind farms—Horns Rev 3, Danish Near Shore and Kriegers Flak. The company invested between 1.1–1.3 billion EUR in Kriegers Flak, pending a final investment decision.
"Our winning bid for Kriegers Flak is 58 percent below the original cap of EUR 0.12. For the Danish Near Shore project the bid was also substantially below its cap," Vattenfall head Gunnar Groebler said. "Proceeding with these two projects, Vattenfall provides Denmark with a cost efficient contribution to meet the country's climate targets and customers's demand for renewable energy."
Denmark's newest offshore wind farm will be constructed in a 132-square-kilometer area in the Baltic Sea, an area that will be home to the world's first "Supergrid." The area actually consists of three sections dedicated to wind power development in Germany, Sweden and Denmark.
The Supergrid will ideally supply cheap renewable energy to a large swath of European consumers and enable electricity trading between individual countries—all while decreasing Europe's need for imported fossil fuels. The idea is that it's always windy somewhere.
"In close partnership with their regional neighbors, Sweden and Germany, the Kriegers Flak area in the Baltic Sea, has been chosen as the first place in the world to have an offshore electricity grid," Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website boasts. "The planned 600 megawatt offshore wind farm will act like a 'Supergrid,' eventually being able to transmit renewable energy through power grids to all three countries.
"The 'Supergrid' would serve three purposes: Bring renewable energy to European consumers, strengthen regional energy markets and increase the security of supply by providing transmission capacity."
Posted on November 7th, 2016 in wind by Spencer R.
Leroy Stebbing has an idea that could take the wind energy industry by storm.
At the very least, the Norfolk engineer’s creation has the potential to change the landscape of wind farms around the country.
Stebbing — who owns Stebbing Engineering — has applied for a patent on a design for a wind turbine system that could make obsolete the current long-blade propeller design currently found on wind farms. He hopes to pique the attention of industries that might be willing to give the design a chance.
“I keep thinking somebody — Vulcraft, Lindsay, any one of those kinds of places — could see the possibilities of using something like this,” he said of his design.
Stebbing’s wind turbine system design features a tall, hollow shaft with shutters or dampers on all sides at the top. The shutters or dampers are opened and closed based on the direction of the wind.
“If the wind is blowing from the north, you only open the shutters that are on the north side of the building. The other three sides are closed,” he said.
The wind blows through the open shutters, down the shaft and is directed horizontally through ducts that vary in size to better control air flow. The controlled air then is used to drive various sizes of impellers.
“When (the wind) goes down through that shaft, if it’s moving at 20 miles per hour and I reduce that shaft size to half of what that opening is, it will be moving through that vertical shaft at 40 miles per hour,” Stebbing said.
By the time the air gets to the impellers, Stebbing said the shaft could be decreased to as much as 10 percent of its original size, which allows more pressure than what’s available at the top.
“It’s like a garden hose,” he said. “If it doesn’t have a nozzle on it, (the water) just falls out of the end of the hose. Put a nozzle on it, you can squirt that water 30 to 40 feet because there’s a lot more pressure. It’s the same idea.”
Stebbing said the ability to control the air flow gives his design a big advantage over the traditional wind turbine design.
“I don’t have a propeller sitting up in the air, where I don’t have any control over what the air is doing,” he said. “I’ve got plenty of control over what the air is doing, and I can condition that air to get a lot more force.”
The elimination of large propeller blades also means no bird strikes and noise is reduced to the hum of a centrifugal fan, he said. It also would eliminate the need to transport large wind turbine components for construction because the impellers used in his design are much smaller, he added.
The system would be ideal for a factory that needs to provide power to a lot of large machinery, he said. In fact, Stebbing said one of the biggest benefits he sees is the elimination of the need for heavy transmission lines to carry energy from the wind farm to specific consumers — large factories, for example — because the turbines can be built near or on site.
“I don’t have a big propeller flipping around up there,” he said. “It would be like a city building. ... If the conditions are right, I can build it close to the consumer and still have it high enough to get the wind.”
Stebbing — who holds other patents for various inventions, including one for a method of burning scrap tires instead of coal to melt steel — said his idea for the new wind turbine system came from the experience he’s acquired working in steel and mechanical engineering fields over the years.
He grew up in Baltimore and came to the Norfolk area in 1973 to “turn a corn field into a steel mill.” After his involvement in establishing Nucor and Vulcraft in Norfolk, Stebbing eventually began working for the mechanical contracting company, Kinning & Reil, where he gained experience working with heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
“Ducts — big ducts, small ducts and things like that,” Stebbing said. “I know about how they work.”
It was that experience that made him wonder how much more efficient wind farms could be with modified system, he said. A small prototype of his design sits at his house. Stebbing said he believes the invention will eventually replace the traditional wind turbines, and he’s excited to see what could happen with it in the future.