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New vision previewed in Las Vegas for the US wind industry

Energised by a US government projection that American wind power can more than double within six years, nearly 8,000 attendees were to be found at North America’s largest wind energy trade show in Las Vegas, which was held from 5 till 8 May. Although it was not as busy in the aisles as it used to be, the people were more optimistic about the industry in general than at last year’s show.
 
At this year’s trade show, attendees heard the US Department of Energy (DOE) preview a draft of its Wind Vision for further growth of US wind energy, which will be released this autumn after further industry peer-review. The vision starts with more than doubling wind energy’s contribution to the electricity mix in just six years, to 10% by 2020. Wind power would comprise 20% of the generation mix by 2030, and 35% by 2050, which could make wind energy the leading source of electricity in the USA by that time.
 
To realise the Wind Vision, proper policies must be in place, from an extension of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) to long-term policy that appropriately values carbon-free electricity, and provides the stability under which other industries operate. At the time of writing this the US Senate had failed to extend a bill which would retroactively extend until 2015 more than US$ 20 billion in energy tax credits. The bill failed to obtain the 60 votes needed to invoke closure and shut off debate to proceed to further consideration of the measure. Hopefully, the Senate will be able to reach a deal later this year to avoid another downfall of the US wind industry. Last time this was the case the supply chain slowed down in the months before the expiration date and as a result the industry saw a drop in installation of 92%. However, a positive thing is that the cost of energy dropped with 43% between 2008 and 2012 according to DOE. This was mostly achieved by technological developments in the field of siting techniques, larger rotor diameters and larger towers.
 
During the show our editorial team picked up lots of new ideas for articles to publish in future issues. But this issue of Windtech International has innovative ideas too, including an article about high-altitude wind energy by Altaeros Energies (page 20). About a year ago Altaeros Energies presented its concept and now it presents the first approved and funded commercial demonstration of an airborne wind energy system.
 
Energy storage is becoming more and more important now that the percentage of renewable energy fed into the grid is growing. NEC Corporation recently commissioned an Energy Storage System (ESS) for Enel Group subsidiary Enel Distribuzione in Italy. The ESS can store two megawatt-hours (2MWh) of renewable power for release into the grid as required. In this issue you can read more about the technology used in the article on page 26.
 
Enjoy reading,
 
Floris Siteur
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